From political unrest to psychedelic pop

It is not the most common recommendation you will ever here, of course, but it was the first step Stephen McRobbie took towards the unconventional world of Japanese musician, dreamer and cultural anarcho-syndicalist, Tori Kudo.

‘l was introduced to the album with the words: “This is the bible of Japanese underground folk psychedelia”.’ It was also an introduction which would lead him to realise his ‘filed-away idea’ of establishing a record label; the one now known as Geographic. Listening to the label’s first release; a compilation made by Kudo’s sprawling musical co-operative Maher Shalal Hash Baz, it’s clear that McRobbie, through his work with the Pastels, has found a kindred spirit. In fact if they hadn’t existed, you get the feeling McRobbie would have had to invent them. Both the Pastels and Maher champion a musical innocence which their supporters call childlike, and their detractors amateur. As Tori himself puts it they both have ‘a manner in which we send out music from where we stand.’

And where exactly does Tori and the Maher Shalal Hash Baz collective stand? Somewhere to the left of everyone else it would appear. Tori recently spent a couple of years in London because his involvement in the fringes of the self-styled East Asia Anti-Japanese Armed Front began to cause him difficulties. He says it is because he became ‘like an eel in jelly in Tokyo’ but in fact extremists in the group made an attempt on the emperor’s life and Tori had enough of it all.

After a couple of years, however, he returned to Japan where he now lives helping his father, a famous potter and playing in his psychedelic rock band. ‘He taught wives of tangerine farmers in the slack season how to draw on porcelain. l have inherited such socialist tastes from him. The composer Kosugi Takehisa [Japanese mixed-media sound performer] once said that a musician’s mission is to provide a format for non-musicians.’ It is for this reason that he believes that anyone should be allowed to play with Maher.

The result may be an error-strewn jamboree of psychedelic jazz but, on its day, it can lift the soul.

(Tim Abrahams)


The mainstream's gone barmy for bootlegs and garage rock acts are ten a penny. Caught in the storm are rock's latest to be emo-tagged. Hundred Reasons who - shock horror - don't really mind. it

‘Well I'd rather be called emo than nu metal,‘ guitarist and part- time vocalist Paul Townsend muses wisely. Indeed. With their hotly tipped debut album. Ideas Above Our Station, released in May. Townsend is suffering from pre- release Jitters: ‘I am a little nervous about it but we're really proud of the album. It‘s a bit more raw and real than the polished stuff around at the moment.‘ Fear not boys. this is the rock album of the year. Boasting infectiously perfect melodies. euphoric choruses and most importantly has put the s0ul back into rock and is heading straight for the mainstream.

Not content With shifting muSical boundaries. Hundred Reasons also

annihilate the arrogant rock star myth. They chat to fans on the net and stay for hours after gigs signing body parts. However. Townsend has recently found that fan worship when taken too far. is a scary place to be. ‘There was one argument on our website that turned really seriOus. It was over whether Knight Rider was any good . . . I mean there's no reason to argue over that. lt was great. obViously' Hundred Reasons are set to bring their famously energetic live performance to QMU before

Reasons to be cheerful

unleashing it at the mighty Ozzfest. Looking forward to an encounter With MTV's very own Mr Osborne? ‘Very scared.‘ laughs Townsend. So what are your aspirations for the band this year? Number one? Sold out tours? Biting the heads off Slipknot fans? “We're a bit nervous about writing our second album. That's the biggest thing on my mind at the moment.’ Magnificent music. unconcerned with cool and album number two already on the way. Over to yOu. Julian Casablancas. (Camilla Pia)


RETROFUNK ROYKSOPP Garage, Glasgow, Wed 8 May

Even a few years ago. the idea of retro dance-music would have seemed like a contradiction in terms. Now, with old school compilations getting the supermarket seal of approval and bands like Boards of Canada making music that's as reminiscent of the 70s as it is of the noughties. it's becoming an increasingly visible contradiction. Of course. the Boards don't strictly make dance music.

' And neither do Royksom).

Norwegian masters of dreamy electronica and darlings of both the dance and indie press. But that doesn't mean they don't want to get you grooving.

‘When we have the different outlet of playing live we are more energetic,‘ explains Torbiorn Brundtland. ‘We usually get people dancing. Of course you get people who are too cool to move their bodies but we prefer a good clubby atmosphere when everyone is getting sweaty. That for us is the best thing that c0uld happen to our music. I mean, one guy said he liked to make love to it, but I don't want to think about that.‘

Don’t go getting all soppy on us...

Brundtland met fellow Royksdpper Svein Berge in Tromso, a town perched in on the edge of the Arctic circle. Berge was working in a record store. while Brundtland cheerfully admits to never having had a ‘proper' job. although he was a postboy for a while. Then they moved to Bergen. got signed to Wall of Sound and released Me/ody AM. a quiet riot of retro Synths. twitching beats and strange vocal samples. It's done better than they'd expected. ‘I think the name indicates that we didn't think we were going to become successful,‘ chuckles Brundtland. ‘If we thought we were we would have given ourselves a different name. maybe something with "groovy" or "funky" in the title. But I'm glad we didn't. It's better not to have to explain what you're doing; better for people to make up their own minds.‘ (James Smart)

2:") Apr—S) May 2002 THE LIST 45