Nowadays, “Deutschland in Japan 2005/2006” is held throughout various parts of Japan. A part of the program, performed in Tokyo and Osaka, is an event called “SOUNDZ FROM GERMANY 2005“, which focuses on German pop-electronic music. In Tokyo, 11 groups representing today’s German music scene, such as “Senor Coconut“, “Mouse on Mars, and “Der Plan” appeared on the stage throughout the events two days.

The event was held at Shibuya “O-East/O-Crest“. A lot of people visited both places during the two days, showing high interest levels of German electronic music in Japan. At O-Crest a limited amount of people were allowed in beacause of its size, which is smaller than O-East.

The open project called “Monolake“, which had performed in the smaller O-crest, is a multi-artist group that had made its debut from the legendary label “Chain Reaction“. The project has been publishing its works at the forefront of the scene, producing numbers of followers. It is also playing an active part in developing an innovative piece of music software called “Ableton Live”. It is going to release its new album “Polygon Cities” soon, so the fans’ energy was up for their performance. Even though the performance was created by one of the members, Robert Henke, it was the first live performance in Japan. “T++” who also had participated in producing the album, also participated. During the live performance, spatial sound effects were intertwined with a unique cool and minimal track; in exquisite timing, voice samples were cut in the music. This is a recent popular technique even though use of it is rare to the project. However, instead of following trends, it seemed like it was expressing Monolake’s own answer with sounds that have intervals and characters, essential to showing a sound space with originality.

In addition, “Silizium EP” made an extremely beautiful memorial address for John Peel, a DJ for BBC radio who passed away last year. Personally, my favorite “Apparat” featuring a vocal of Las Ohara was beautiful as well. The live performance was beautiful and crazy.

On the other hand, at the larger hall O-East, German New wave leaders “Der Plan” and a new talented band “Kante” performed live. “Senor Coconut” played not only their own music but also a Latin version of “Kraftwerk” who has gained international significance and respect by many fans and artists. Senor Coconut also played “Beat it” by Michael Jackson, currently caught up in a scandal, with a sense of humor. This was their first live performance in Japan as “Senor Coconut”..

Furthermore, “Atom TM” by “Senor Coconut” was played at O-Crest as “Atom TM vs Pink Ellen”. “Pink Ellen” has been their friends for a long time, and it was definitely a splendid view for fans. They played acid techno. Whenever these people plays like this it is a historical moment.

So far, all I could say about the performers was miraculous. It is unworthy of distinguishing music by countries or regions, though I suspect that there is a specific uniqueness and fertileness to German music when compared to music from the UK or US. At the last of the two days event, “Mouse on Mars” and “Lali Puna” performed. “Mouse on Mars” obtained and expressed very strong originality including experimentation, popularity and madness of German electronic music stretching from “Kraftwerk” and “CAN”. On the other hand, however, “Lali Puna” still has not been evaluated appropriately since they were pushed in a vague framework called German electronica.

We had a chance to talk to Lali Puna’s main members: Valery, (vocals and keys) and Marcus (bass). Charming Valery and taciturn Marcus like a philosopher look like they are facing and performing their favorite music really naturally. They still keep establishing their worldview as “Lali Puna” every time when they release new music, even though they certainly have a consistent common sound like “My Bloody Valentine”, which was mentioned in the interview as well. They should be evaluated widely also in Japan beyond the limits of Electronica, but in a category of rock music on account of the label “Morr Music”.

“Mouse on Mars” had performed the last and most popular number of the event. In the past three times, they had given full play to their stage performance ability; such as “Maria Ostobanhof” at Idiology Tour”, “Metamorphose” from last year, and music from this time. Each of those performances left me with different impressions. “Frosch”, their last tune, evoked a sensation of shedding tears of gratitude.

Like Lali Puna’s Marcus said in the interview, artists performed during this event are important ones to tell nowadays German pop-electronic music, even though they are not representing Germany. Moreover, we are able to catch a glimpse of tendencies of Japanese and worldwide music by feeling their music, and pursuing surrounding music sources and artists. Availing “Deutschland in Japan 2005/2006” festival, which presents Germany from cultural point of view (such as design, art and music) of an opportunity, it could be a chance to know various and sensational “borderless culture” that is also a topic of SHIFT.

Date : May 2-3, 2005 18:00-
Place : Shibuya O-East/Shibuya O-Crest

Text: Yasuharu Motomiya
Photos: Miho Kakuta
Translation: Kousai Kato

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