Chipstriker Osaka, 4/7/07

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10 avr. 2007, 6h05m

Sat 7 Apr – Nullsleep, Bit Shifter, Role Model, Hally, Blasterhead, Kplecraft, BSK, portalenz, midnight sleazy

Well, after enduring a 7 hour seminar on computer-based EFL instruction in Umeda, I popped down to Namba for a little of the old ultra-weirdness. First, I dropped by Covent Garden for a beer. Maybe it was me, but the place has changed a bit since I was last there, perhaps owing to the fact that its friendly Australian bartendress/part-owner(?) was AWOL that night (and their draft beer choices had shrunk). Maybe it was simply the fact that they had moved things around for their in-door hanami party event. Anyway, I didn't stay for more than a couple of minutes before I decided to head back towards Sankaku Koen. On the way I bumped into some English-speaking gaijin-groupies lost on their way to Cafe Absinthe. I (in a gesture of true gentlemantality), led them there, where I bumped into Andrew, a new Ritsumeikan co-worker, and a group of revelers on the patio (Gregory, Kae and Yuka, if memory serves). Anyway, Kae, a chubby girl in bohemian rags, suspected I was gay, and asked me point-black if I was (mere seconds after we were introduced). I replied by showing her my ring and mentioning that I was married, but she still remained skeptical. AM I just a total fem? Or are most Absinthe customers simply of that bent? I left the question for greater minds to answer, and headed for Triangle.

Well, after being butt-raped by the cover charge on the way in, I was more certain than ever that I didn't swing that way. But the bouquet of geekiness that awaited me made it more than worth it. Tonight was Chipstriker, a chiptune festival, basically. Imagine my surprise when I head for the dancefloor only to recognize an (only very slightly remixed) version of the theme from Nintendo's Castlevania heating up the crowd. Heading to the so-called chillout lounge on the second floor, I was greated by a long table of nerdy goods, ranging from the simply geeky (rare and imported chiptune artist CDs and goods) to the truly terrifyingly otakuish (overpriced para-para remixes of Dance Dance Revolution with sexy anime girls on the CD covers). After a brief survey of the table, I zeroed on the last available copy of a two-CD international chiptune comp, and picked it up without a second thought. I also started chatting with a girl at the tables, and she mentioned she was going to England later this month for a long spell. Suddenly, the girl's American(?) boyfriend(?) swooped over, doubly annoyed that I was talking to his girl and that I had taken the last copy of the CD he had been eyeing himself. He actually offered to buy it off of me, but I laughingly told him, no, I was planning on reviewing it for Japanzine. He was visibly pissed-off (much to my badly concealed amusement)...

One other notable feature:two guys and one girl with laptops were sprawled on cushioned seats overlooking the balcony, all taking turns controlling the BGV. The way they were all casually live-mixing images simultaneously to the music, wow, it was tre cyberpunk...

Anyway, the first act was this sort of chubby Japanese guy who played disturbing gabba-pop linked with manga-kiddie porn imagery from some computer game. Some of the westerners in the crowd were getting really creeped out, but the visuals never reached a point of unbearable perversity, and the guys random shouts of "Oppai! Oppai!" were damn amusing. It might have midnight sleazy, but the Chipstriker webpage is now down, so I might never know.

Then it was chiptune with saxaphone (if I'm not mistaken, provided by Kplecraft), and then two young European guys doing basically the same thing jazz-blip hybrid. Kplecraft was the more interesting of the two, simply because the sax-playing was superior, but that's just one guys opinion.

Then balding Swedish artist Role Model took the stage. He was the first one to really get the crowd moving, especially when he pulled-off some hilarious "evil" vocals with the help of a little pitch-shifting and effects. Certainly fun.

But Bit Shifter, the 'headliner', was next, and did he rawk. Using a Game Boy (somehow) connected to a laptop, his stuff sounded more like chiptune versions of Squarepusher or Aphex Twin material than simulated video game music. His drum n' bass track (which I later discovered on the comp I'd gotten) was THE highlight of the evening.

Hally was up next, with his 80's electro take on the genre. His version of Blue Monday got the crowd back to bouncing, but it was 2 AM, and I was running low on steam, so I left soon after and headed for capsule.

In retrospect, I think it was one of the more memorable electronic music events I've attended. I think most folks (at least from 'Generation X' on up) first heard electronic music through video games, providing a somewhat subliminal positive response to anyone who grew up playing Atari, Nintendo or Commodore 64 games, and the undisguised geekiness of everyone there was a welcome change from your typical style/appearance/behavior conscious club crowds. Not to wax too nostalgic, but it seems that, ironically, as sampling technology has provided electronic music producers with infinite possibilities, 'typical' techno and house have become increasingly more simplistic, repetitive and formulaic. We can still learn a lot about catchy (loop-based) song construction from Mario and Co.

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