Thursday, April 3, 2008

Japanese Craziness: YMCK

The Tokyo-based blog, PingMag should be a regular stop for anyone interested in Japanese design and culture. A recent entry on the band YMCK seemed to tie in nicely with our current Japanese obsession over here at Check out PingMag for more background about the band, plus an interview.

YMCK's sound is based entirely on 8-bit video game-style music from the 70s and 80s. Yep, you heard me right. The idea totally rules - no question about that - but when it comes to the execution of the idea, y'know, the actual songs themselves... well, I'll be the first to admit that the songs can be a bit challenging to listen to. But then I've always thought the video game music of that era was kind of irritating.

On the other hand, this song "Starlight" from their third, most recent album, Family Genesis definitely works, impressively transcending it's source reference to be a wonderful song in its own right. The video is great too.

I'm into this tune ("Panic Racer 005" - from their second album Family Racing) mostly for the video. What a great take on the classic old school racing game. And don't forget the song's absolutely red hot jazzy 8-bit synth solo. Too funny.

Other thoughts: it's funny how sounds that were at one time associated with state of the art game tech now seem raw, almost like cheap old guitars and analog distortion pedals that you might find secondhand at a pawn shop. Also, the interview on PingMag mentions that they tour and play live - imagine going to see them and hearing these tunes 10 times as loud. Head banging to video game music... sign me up! Or not? Not sure.

More links:
YMCK's Official Web site
YMCK's Myspace site

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day

As you've probably noticed, we're really excited about the Japanese stuff we've got in stock. Which do we love more: Mexican or Japanese pop culture and kitsch? Please don't make us choose! Thank you.

Sticking with our Japanese theme, here's a video by a great Tokyo group from the 90's, Pizzicato 5. The song's called "It's a Beautiful Day." Enjoy.