© 2001 Masaru Owaku (A-Shield)

In the evening on December 18th, I was on the subway in Tokyo. There was a strange woman wearing the green pleated one-piece dress of Issey Miyake and making herself up to look younger. But when she turned to me, I found she was a young girl. I tried to figure out why she was filled with so strange atmosphere. An aura surrounding her was outstanding and it might have been because she was wearing such a one-piece dress that was designed for middle-aged ladies to cover the shape of their body lines. She had rather cheap lace-up boots on and because of it, she looked like a junior high or high school student. It seemed she was trying to look herself smart for her first date or something like that. But she had no intelligence, taste or elegance, and her face was slackened. She created a strange atmosphere with the inappropriate clothes for her age.
Anyway, I hurried on my way to the interactive concert of Susumu Hirasawa which would be held in Hamamatsu-cho.

Interactive Live is a multimedia live concert started in 1994 by Susumu Hirasawa who is a leader of ‘P-Model’, the originator of Japanese techno-pop. Speaking of the year 1994, there was a mad boom of ‘virtual reality’ and ‘interactive’ in Japan, and at the same time, the CD-Rom business was enlivened. At that time many artists were groping for a point of contact between their expressions and the possibility of technology, Hirasawa’s attempt for this interactive live was really notable for its activity and the experimental spirit.
This live performance is a kind of entertainment that reflects the audience’s wills through computers. In these years, some audiences has participated positively in this live performance being at home via the internet. On the huge translucent screen partitions the hall into stage and seats, all kind of text messages and realtime CG images are reflected, and the story of live performance is related by the audience’s reaction. It’s a kind of roll-playing game.

Most of fans of P-model (and also Hirasawa) are generally in middle or high age group. Most of them were first found their sound in 80’s and apparently there’s few possibility that they acquire a new fan. Hirasawa is the original originator of ‘Techno-pop’ exists in totally different dimension from the current stream of club music from 90’s house music to techno. This is also the definitive difference from the techno artist ‘Denki Groove’, though they also had their starting point in 80’s. In Denki Groove’s live performances, performers on the stage are never spotlit and the audience never look at the stage carefully. It’s generally all-standing and the audience behave as they like except they experience the space in common. You can dance if you want and you can go and buy something to drink whenever you want. One of the special features of club sound is started from denying the past rock-star system. The past show business by rock stars is a kind of system where performers and the audience can unite through a common sign or symbol, and have an enthusiasm, intoxication, excitement and strong emotion in common by playing each part. It sometimes created temporary charismatics.

A Japanese rock band called ‘Luna Sea’ broken up one month ago had a last concert and it was totally unusual, though I only saw it on TV. Performers’ sentimental words for their fans and the audience were excited at those words. They both looked really strange. It’s far from the deep emotion we have when we experience excellent music and performance. It’s a temporary hysteria within an exclusive circle.
But when it becomes a business, most of live concerts become no more than an amusement show.

Nevertheless, this solo concert of Hirasawa is a kind of amusement show entitled ‘Interactive Live Show’. He started P-Model at the dawn of the New Wave Age in 80’s and had continued his activities as an artist. It seems he has pursued the possibility of music and technology consistently. With the made-up nature of rock music stars and the current casual technologies such as video games and the internet as motives, he played the charismatic fool on the stage. Honestly, it made the outside audience including me (not really a fan of Hirasawa) laugh. But on the other hand, I couldn’t help feeling a fear for the depiction of technologic environment taking the current state into consideration as a show.

An originator of techno-pop, out-and-out Amiga handler, his own style as an interactive live, collaboration through the net, aggressive web development, attempt for a music distribution through the net since its early stage, etc… While he keeps attracting his old fans, he has involved in new type of fans including animation fans, game fans and CG manias. It’s like a monster eats bizarre foods. The circle looks like being close, but it’s diffusing at the core.
Toward the end of the live performance, there was a girl shouting at the top of her voice near my seat. She was rising from her seat alone and dancing wildly with disheveled hair, and it was the girl wearing the pleated one-piece dress of Issey Miyake who I saw on subway.

Text: Jiro Ohashi from E-Regular
Translation: Mayumi Kaneko

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