Dec 25, 2009

Tomorrow

I'm kinda in hurry so have to be short. Hikashu will perform at Shibuya Quatro on December 26th. Guests are Inoue Makoto (synthesizer), Yamashita Yasushi (synthesizer), and Tobe Satoshi (alto saxophone, vocal). Yes, the original Hikashu's reunion. And Chikada Haruo, who was the producer for Hikashu's 1st and 2nd album, and Soutaisei Riron (the band), also will participate. Surely, this is going to be a special night.

Dec 23, 2009

Ono Seigen praised Hikashu


(the photo from Saidera Paradiso web site)

While I haven't a chance to listen to it yet, Ten Ten Ten already starts earning some reputation. For example, at Jazz Tokyo (the popular jazz site), Ono Seigen picked it up for the album of the year.

Ono, the internationally renowned musician and recording engineer, did the mastering of the album (and the Gaspacho single). And he commented that, because of his job, he listened a lot of records, and Ten Ten Ten is exceptional, far superior from the rest.

He also witnessed the Hikashu's performance in Shibuya last October, and quite impressed.

He expressed that he will use some excerpts of the album for his presentation at industry conventions.

Saidera Paradiso
Seigen Ono on MySpace

Dec 22, 2009

Love Treatment


Hikashu
"Electric Merry Christmas Final"
at Ikebukuro Live-Inn Rosa
On December 5th, 2009 (the day one)


Hikashu appeared as the last act of the day.

As usual, the band kicked out their set by Ikirukoto. The biggest surprise was Love Treatment. The song, from the first album, rarely played these days. Melancholy in Global City started by short but sharp bass intro, and featured extended jam.

The place was packed and the crowd was enthusiastic. Short (almost an hour) but nice performance.

The photos of the event are here (just scroll it down).

Dec 19, 2009

the Cho-Kayou Concert


Makigami Koichi
the "Cho-Kayou" Concert
at Kichijoji Star Pine's Cafe
on December 3, 2009
Makigami Koichi (vocal), Sato Yoshiaki (accordion), Shika Udai (cello, alto saxophone), Mita Freeman (guitar, vocal), Sakaide Masami (bass), Shimizu Kazuto (piano, keyboard), Sato Masaharu (drums)


It was manifique, memorable night. Although the weather was bad, the atmosphere was quite intimate.

Makigami was with no gadget. No theremin, no cornet. He stood bare, before the microphone, and just used his voice. Also occasionally used Jeu's harp and ukulele.

Lots of very familiar songs were performed. Of course, most of them are from the recently reissued Cho-Kayou albums ("Minzoku no Saiten" and "Koroshi no Blues"), but some numbers were unrecorded yet, or pretty obscure ones. For example, "Heisei Jaran Bushi" and "Karyo-binga", both from the rare 1990 solo single, were chosen. Also, "Soshu Yakyoku" (蘇州夜曲), a 1940 classic song by the great composer, Hattori Koichi were included. In the middle of a song, Makigami did some conduction à la Frank Zappa, and it was nice accent, adding the concert some dynamism. Indeed, it was quite different from ordinary, full-of-nostagia show.

The band was tight. Mita sang the first two verses of "My Blue Heaven" (as the same with the album) so well that Makigami just praised it very much after the performance. Cellist Shika also played alto saxophone. And I found the most noteworthy is Sato's accodion. His play was pretty effective. It enhanced very good, old-timey atmosphere, which was well-suited the situation.

Overall, it was success, and Makigami revealed he intended doing the concert again in near future. Can't wait.

Dec 18, 2009

Makigamisantachi - Tompal (2005)

While waiting for the forthcoming album, just take a look at the thing of the past:


Makigamisantachi - Tompal (2007)

pray for lightning
there is nothing for the world
cactus hat
pretend not know muscles
paint ears
peace my mind
hand of grandson
sway fortune
ant fat
bone
frog star

Makigamisantachi is:
Makigami, voice and theremin
Freeman, guitar and sampler
Sakaide, bass and laptop

This is a sort of precursor for Ten-Ten.

At that time, Makigami just started using Theremin in public. It took him years of preparation, and he formed this group as a kind of proving-ground.

Improvisational electro tracks with guitar and bass. Plus Makigami's voice and theremin. Do not expect this typical electro music. Quite the contrary. Kinda fierce and noisy, lots of interplay. Never dull, very dynamic, and full of instinct. A likeable kind of electro, I'd say. An interesting and fresh approach from Hikashu people.

Makigamisantachi pronounces makigami-san-tachi.

Available via

Dec 8, 2009

Asakusa


Hikashu x Meteor
November 27th, 2009
@ Asakusa Triwood


Hikashu started their set by Mita's singing, accompanied only with his guitar. I don't know what it is but it seems it's very old song.

Also, a tune from the new album were performed. It was called Justrius (sp?). Makigami cited its lyrics, backed with collective improvisation. He said he wrote it in Norway, and the album was still in works.

They did two encores that day. Last encore, the drummer Sato have to leave early so he was not present. The band played "The Curry Master" sans the drummer.

Short but nice set.

Dec 7, 2009

Excerpts from the New Album



On December 1st, Makigami has reported on twitter that the master of the new album, Ten-Ten-Ten, was sent to the pressing factory.
It is going to be released on December 20th.
Hikashu office now accepts pre-order.

You can hear a snippet of the album on Hikashu's MySpace account.
Access here to listen to "Nicoselon."

Also "Melancholy in Global City" from the Gazpaccho single is now available on the account. Here.

Hikashu on MySpace

Nov 25, 2009

Cáceres

Hikashu - Carps and Gaspacho



and the scenic shot of Cáceres, Spain.

Makigami visited Spain in summer this year, and probably shot the video for himself.

Nov 21, 2009

"... one of the defining bands of Japanese new wave and technopop ..."

I just found Japan Times has some interesting articles about the Drive to 2010s event. One of them also features a photo of Hikashu from 1979.

Notable for Koichi Makigami's distinctive, Kabuki-influenced vocal style, Hikashu were, alongside P-Model and The Plastics, one of the defining bands of Japanese new wave and technopop, although from their poppy debut they quickly tacked in a more experimental direction. At Drive to 2010 they are notable for being one of only a handful of artists to perform at all three "Drive to . . . " events.


I would like to note, at that event, Hikashu is the only band which never cease to exist during those 30 years.

All aboard for Drive to 2010

The past and present of bands tearing up Japan's underground scene

Nov 19, 2009

The Band's Name

Here's a little, but very important question for all us fans:

What does the word "Hikashu" mean?

The answer:

No one knows.

Explanation:

The name Hikashu was originally conceived and endowed by an original member, synthesizer player Yamashita Yasushi.

It is not conventional Japanese word. So if you ask it nearby Japanese, you would probably never get any likely answer.

Yamashita has never reveal exactly what it is, and its meaning is still subject to debate among the fans.

Nov 18, 2009

The Big Issue

The second-latest issue of The Big Issue (Japanese edition, #130) has an interview with Makigami. In it, he talked about the early days (he was aspiring to become an stage actor), his relationship with Tuva Republic (in Japan, he is one of the most renowned practitioner of Tuvan throat singing, Khoomei), and of course, Hikashu.



Back numbers are available from the vendors.

The Big Issue Japan (in English)
The Big Issue Japan, #130

Nov 17, 2009

Merry Electric Christmas

The Model Plants, a Japanese new wave band formed in 1984, will come to an end this year. The group also has hosted a December event entitled "Merry Electric Christmas" for years, and 2009 will be the last. It's two days event and Hikashu will perform on the first date, December 5th.


the image derived from the official site

"Merry Electric Christmas Final"
at Ikebukuro Live-Inn Rosa
On December 5th, 2009
16:00 open, 18:30 start
Live Performance:
The Model Plants, Mokugyo, Arvant-Garde, Seirogan-X, Nakayama Takashi with LABSiCK Man-Machine ReMix, Yamamoto Naoki, Hikashu
VJ: nipponia electronica
DJ: Onojima Dai, Tachizawa Yuji
advance 3,000 yen / at door 3,500 yen (one drink order required)


The Official Event Blog
Ikebukuro Live-Inn Rosa

Nov 16, 2009

Cho Kayou Live Concert

Cho Kayou (超歌謡) is a term which Makigami used for his way of interpretation of Japanese songs. In "Minzoku No Saiten" (1982) and "Koroshi No Blues" (1992), Makigami covered popular (and obscure) Japanese songs, most of them are from 1950-1970. There are so many "Japanese songbook" albums in the market, but those two albums are clearly stood out, for the songs' selection (which really reflected his eclectism), and its unique and fresh approach for each song.

In the past, Makigami did a series of live concert under the Cho Kayou concept, which he called Cho Kayou Live. And the latest date is coming on next month. Recently he did not Cho Kayou thing so frequently, and this time play with Hikashu people, so this is a truly rare treat. Should not to be missed.

Makigami Koichi Cho Kayou Live
at Kichijoji Star Pine's Cafe
on December 3, 2009
Makigami Koichi (vocal), Sato Yoshiaki (accordion), Shika Udai (cello), Mita Freeman (guitar), Sakaide Masami (bass), Shimizu Kazuto (keyboard), Sato Masaharu (drums)
18:30 open, 19:30 start
advance 3,600 yen / at door 4,000 yen (one drink order required)


Note: "Minzoku No Saiten" and "Koroshi No Blues" are going to be reissued late this month.

Star Pine's Cafe

Nov 15, 2009

Meteor

Meteor is an artists' unit of music and CG animation from Asakusa, Tokyo, formed in 1996. Musically, they took an unique approach, trying to integrate western pop and japanese traditional music. They are also prolific CG creators, and won many CG-related awards in the past. The CG works are featured in their live performance, too. The first album, Chemistry of Children (1999), was produced by Hikashu's bass player, Sakaide Masami.

Meteor invite Hikashu as guest at their live set.

Hikashu x Meteor
at Asakusa Kurawood
on November 27, 2009
18:30 open, 19:30 start
advance 3,500 yen / at door 3,800 yen


Meteor official site
Meteor on MySpace

Nov 2, 2009

Ten Ten

Speaking of Ten Ten, it's a nice album. If you were interested in improvisational side of Hikashu, you should get this one.



Hikashu - Ten Ten (2007)

Ten Ten
No Hello
Hide-And-Seek
What Is Sakki
Cool Evening
Unexpected...Half Of Watermelon
Lively Story
Golden Egg
A Pomegranate Is Here


All improvisation. A lot of interplay, strange voices, and weird wind-like sounds of thermin. Full of twist, thrill, and humor.

Here's background: In 2006, the Stone, a live venue in NYC, planned to do "the Makigami Koichi week." Makigami accepted the offer. He decided to devote Hikashu a day, and do some recording with the band in the city.

Since keyboard player Shimizu couldn't make it to NYC, and they just wanted to do that way, the band decided to try entirely improvisational approach for the recording. And they made it. It turned out pretty well. They even didn't change the recording order for the release. So the track sequence of the album is the same as the recording proceeded.

I think there're not so many other bands than Hikashu could do the thing like this so splendidly. Of course, it was not easy thing to do. Makigami admitted that it was exceptional, even for Hikashu. And fortunately, they succeeded to capture the crucial moment.

"We couldn't do this anymore" - Makigami Koichi, April 2009

Ten Ten page on DMG

Available via HMV Japan.

Oct 31, 2009

New Album

Yesterday, on twitter, Makigami announced that he and Sakaide are currently mixing the forthcoming album. It's called Ten Ten Ten, a sequel of the Ten Ten album. So, naturally, it's pretty likely that it's going to be based entirely on improvisation. He said it is slated to be released on December. Can't wait.

Oct 28, 2009

Three Encores

Hikashu @ Club Quattro, Shibuya, Tokyo on October 26th, 2009
opening act: Juicy Half


Although the storm was coming and the weather was not good, Hikashu did a relatively short (probably due to time restrictions) but impressive set. All the three composition from the new single, Carps and Gaspazio, were performed. The audience was hot and enthusiastic, demanding more and more, and after the main set, the band had to back to the bandstand three times!

Juicy Half, the opening act, performed nicely. Iriya and Takagi, the original members, played solid and steady, and one could clearly see the two young musicians were really dedicated. The atmosphere was certainly there. Their repertoire was renowned for complicating chorus, and the re-formed band well replicated it. (Remember, they are a self-contained group.)

After the concert, Hikashu did an instant autographing session. There was a long line, asking for the new single...

Related Entries:
Opening Improvisation
Nyuunen Video

Oct 22, 2009

Carps and Gazpacho (2009)

Hikashu goes Latin.

I'm not kidding. The title track of their new single, out this October, is strictly latin, both lyrically and musically. You could hear lots of latin percussions. Of course, it's Hikashu song so it's not only pretty good but being quite "different". Lyrics? How to make a Gazpacho, a cold Spanish tomato-based soup.



Hikashu - Carps and Gazpacho (maxi single, 2009)

1. Carps and Gazpacho
2. Singular
3. Melancholy in Global City

words - makigami
music - mita (1, 2), sakaide (3)

The coupling tracks are straight rock tunes. Singular (Chin Mu Rui) is fast, driving, and complicated number. Makigami's lyrics and vocal work on this tune is not only humorous but also contains some vocal wizardry. Melancholy in Global City is about the loss of humanism in so-called flattened world, and the will of people who wants to connect each other, despite of hardship. Vocals are entirely altered, which is quite rare for Hikashu or Makigami (he once said he doesn't like using effects on vocal), but this time it succeeds. Also he sings flat, emotion-less here on purpose, and it's quite effective, I think.

Actually those compositions are quite old - first recorded in 1997. Originally, it was intended for immediate release but never materialized for some reasons. This time, lots of over-dub (and discarding) were made by current Hikashu members and Makigami's son, Kaichi.

Hikashu in 1997 consisted of Makigami, Mita, Sakaide, plus Nomoto Kazuhiro (reeds), Torsten Rusch (synthesizer), Yoshimori Makoto (keyboard), and Niida Kozo (drums). There is no available info for over-dubbing but Makigami revealed he has re-done all vocals and Mita's guitar is not replaced. The sounds of snare drum is apparently different than Sato's so those were played by Niida, presumably.

Overall great works. Highly recommended.

Available via HMV Japan.

2009 Fall Tour

Commemorating a release of their new single, Hikashu will envoke 3 cities tour.

October 20th - Club Quattro, Nagoya
October 21st - Club Quattro, Osaka
October 26th - Club Quattro, Tokyo

Juicy Half will perform as an opening act for the October 26th concert. Juicy Half is a quartet, including of Iriya and Takagi Toshio, the original members of early 1980s New Wave act, Juicy Fruits, of the "Jenny Wa Gokigen Naname" fame (hence the name). Juicy Fruits has some connection to Hikashu. Their producer was Chikada Haruo, and the drummer Takagi played on early Hikashu albums. Juicy Fruits disbanded in 1984 and the vocalist/guitarist Iriya stopped performing on public for long time. But in 2009, Iriya started playing again and formed Juicy Half with Takagi and two young musicians.

Promoted by Smash.

Tour notification page (by Smash)

Drive To 2010

Drive To 2010 is an concert series of New Wave, Techno, Jazz and Free Music acts, which is going to be held on October 15th to 25th at Shinjuku Loft, Tokyo. And Hikashu performed on October 17th.

This event has long history, spanning 30 years. First time it was Drive To 80s, held in 1979. Hikashu appeared on Oct 20th. At that time, they were recording their first album.

Then, there was Drive To 2000, which held in 1999. That time Hikashu was the last act of the last day. Maybe this choice was somewhat related to their debut single, At the End of the 20th Century.

Having performed at Drive To 2010, Hikashu became the only band appearing all the three events.

Drive To 2010 official site
Drive To 2000 commemorating site

Everything is decided on bandstand

Hikashu prepares no setlist. That's their policy. They decide what tune they gonna play, on bandstand. Somebody plays an introduction or a fragment of composition, they would do that. Sometimes more than one member start different song at the same time, then "the battle of which song we'll play" would begin. And they do lots of improvisation. Really a lot. That's why there is no the same Hikashu concert.

Discography

Regarding in-print titles, here I put links to HMV Japan (English page). They provide English service and accept orders from outside Japan. Hope this helps.

album

Hikashu (1979) HMV Japan
Natsu (1980) HMV Japan
Uwasa No Jinrui (1981) HMV Japan
Hikashu Super (1981) - compilation, including non-album tracks HMV Japan
Nihon No Egao (1984) - 12-inch mini album HMV Japan*
Watashi No Tanoshimi (1984) - music for fashion show HMV Japan
Mizu Ni Nagashite (1984) HMV Japan*
Soba De Yokereba (1985) - music for ballet troupe
Nanimo Kamo Odore (1987) - issued on cassette tape
Ningen No Kao (1988) blog entry HMV Japan
Live (1989)
Teicho Na Omotenashi (1990) HMV Japan
Hanauta Hajime (Humming Soon) (1991) HMV Japan
Acchi No Me, Kocchi No Me (1993) blog entry HMV Japan
Fushigi o Mitsumete [Orguss 02 OST] (1993) - soundtrack for video animation series HMV Japan
1978 (1996) - remaster of early demo blog entry HMV Japan
Kawatteru (1996) - sort of the best album, all the songs are completely re-arranged and re-recorded blog entry HMV Japan
Hikashu History (2001) - compilation of live tracks, demo, tv advertisement, et al. blog entry iTunes amazon mp3
Ten Ten (2006) blog entry HMV Japan
Ikiru Koto (2008) HMV Japan
Ten Ten Ten (2009) blog entry HMV Japan iTunes
Uragoe (2012) blog entry HMV Japan
Bankan (2013) blog entry HMV Japan
Hikashu Super Two (2014) HMV Japan a compilation of rare singles and unreleased recodings
Ikitekoi Chinmoku (2015) HMV Japan
Anguri in the Style of Unlanding (2017) blog entry HMV Japan

single

20 Seiki No Owarini (1979) aka At The End Of The 20th Century blog entry
Shiroi Highway (1980) "White Highway"
Glass No Dance (1980) "Dance On Glass"
Pike (1981) blog entry
Cho Shonen (1981)
Model (1982) - cover of the Kraftwerk song, Japanese lyrics
Watashi Wa Baka Ni Naritai (1983) "I want to be like a fool"
Ningen No Kao (1988)
Nyunen (2007) - maxi single, contains 3 tracks blog entry HMV Japan
Carps And Gazpacho (2009) - maxi single, contains 3 tracks blog entry HMV Japan
Nikoseron Part 3 (2011) blog entry HMV Japan
Chakra Biraki (2013) - 5 track mini-album featuring Charan Po Rantan blog entry HMV Japan

other projects

Makigamisantachi - Tompal (2004) blog entry HMV Japan

* "Nihon No Egao" and "Mizu Ni Nagashite" are available as 2CD set for the 2008 reissue.

Sep 3, 2009

The Little House They Used To Live In

It's 1978. Hikashu members lived together in small house at residential area of East Tokyo, listening records of Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Derek Bailey et al., and doing some experimentation. Then they recorded a demo and passed it to Chikada Haruo, musician and record producer. Chikada immediately loved the tape and next day he phoned them to tell that he want to produce the band.

The demo was finally issued as "Hikashu 1978" in 1997, and it verified they were practicing lo-fi music when the term did not exist at all. Many fans prefer the tape to "produced" version.

Aug 13, 2009

The members


Hikashu in 2012. From left to right: Shimizu Kazuto, Sakaide Masami, Makigami Koichi, Mita Freeman, and Sato Masaharu.


The current line-up of Hikashu is:

MAKIGAMI Koichi (vocal, theremin, cornet, shakuhachi)
MITA Freeman (guitar) - formerly known as MITAMA Masamichi
SAKAIDE Masami (bass)
SHIMIZU Kazuto (piano, bass clarinet)
SATO Masaharu (drums)

Makigami and Mita are original members. Sakaide joined the band on December 1982 (before then, Makigami played bass), both Shimizu and Sato in 2003.

Past members:

Yamashita Yasushi (synthesizer) - original member
Inoue Makoto (synthesizer) - original member
Tobe Satoshi (alto saxophone, vocal, guitar) - original member
Sensui Toshiro (drums)
Nomoto Kazuhiro (reeds)
Taniguchi Masaru (drums)
Otomo Yoshihide (turntable)
Tsuno Ken (drums)
Torsten Rasch (keyboard)
Yoshimori Makoto (keyboard)
Niida Kozo (drums)


There is a chronological listing of the members at The Line-ups of Hikashu (Family Tree)

Where to buy the albums

Outside Japan, I recommend Downtown Music Gallery in New York City. They have stocked recent Hikashu releases and doing mail order. They also accept orders outside USA. Their catalog is pretty impressive - just take a look at their site, then you will know what I mean.

Hikashu page on DMG
Downtown Music Gallery

(March 28, 2010 added)
Also, regarding in-print titles, I putted links to HMV Japan (English page) in Discography page. They provide English menu and accept foreign orders.

Let's start now

Hikashu is an avant-pop band from Japan, formed in 1978, never disbanded, and still going strong.

They are everything. Well-written compositions, masterful improvisation, mystique voice, openness, and absolute sense of humor.

I will write this blog for foreign audience. Comments, corrections and feedback are welcome.