Andy Votel presents Futen Carmen meets Keizer Ketchup
Here’s a real treat from the Manchester based blog Oi Polloi featuring Finders Keepers head honcho and beat digging master Andy Votel making a mix with Japan in mind.
Andy is much better qualified to explain the content of resulting ‘Futen Carmen meets Keizer Ketchup’ mix than us, so over to Andy…” – Oi Polloi
Anyway, when Steve and Eoin recently asked me to play at their Japanese fundraiser I thought I’d re-check the email before I offered up my psych rock bento box. Encouragingly, after playing triple-truant on my OiPolloi Monday mix-tape Eoin decided that we should take the opportunity to kill two birds with one sharp stone… so before I put the Nippon-Funk back on the shelf I’ve put together a long overdue collage of some of my heaviest Japanese jams, comprising eerie acidik folk, communal prog rock, new-wave-pop and general unclassified oddness that I’ve picked up over the years.
The recent news from Japan is heartbreaking to say the very least. As the years go by the natural disasters that flash onto our TV screens seem to be occurring on an increasingly regular basis. While we watch these images from the comfort of our armchairs on oversize tellys the mental recovery gaps seem to get shorter. But all too often these occurrences happen in far-off lands, that as much as we try, are kinda hard to relate to… This, however, was not the case in Japan. When this sort of thing happens in such a developed and advanced nation the images hit you right between to eyes – evoking the kind of terror only seen in Hollywood blockbusters. Japan is a nation that so many creative people look to for inspiration. The quality of art, design, fashion and film that comes from Japan consistently combines the ultra-cool and the sublimely-exotic, resulting in a simple can of peas from a Japanese supermarket or a packet of batteries providing endless inspiration for salivating Western typographers. For an awestruck graphic designer Japan “looks” indestructible. When natural disasters of this magnitude happen we feel helpless and there is enough conflicting information out there to make us wonder if “natural” is an apt way to describe many of the possibly “man-made” problems that seem to be haemorrhaging. The importance of recycling and eco-friendly living is undeniable. But the recycling and sharing of cultural and creative ideas, like music and art, are also one of the most important, enjoyable and easiest ways of understanding other cultures.
Like most of my favourite “foreign” records, most of the Japanese music in my collection comes from an interest in cinema, design and theatre. Vintage poster designers like Tadanori Yokoo or Keiichi Tanaami, who worked closely with communal pop-up theatre groups like Tenjo Sajiki, provided early images that inspired revolutionary animation like Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna Of Sadness (1973) with its witchy proto-Manga stylings and freak-funk score. These movements went hand-in-hand with street performance, tribal-youth-culture and protest music which manifested itself through the Acid Folk and rock music of Carmen Maki, The Flower Traveling Band, J.A. Caesar and the films of Shuji Terayama (Emperor Tomato Ketchup 1971) and Mitsuo Yanagimachi (God Speed You Black Emperor 1976). In title alone the second and third hand influence on Western pop music is plain to see. These DIY and proto punk sensibilities were already well established in Japan’s self-sufficient pop culture before punk and new-wave became marketable genres in the West, resulting in bands like The Plastics (featuring early exponents of the Major Force label) and The Sadistic Mika Band fusing punk-funk and electronic pop while scoring record deals in the U.K. and U.S. – leaving western contenders dumbfounded. This mixtape contains some rare and obscure examples of the aforementioned artists and ties a common thread around the branches of a family tree from which much of Japanese alt-pop culture (in visual and sonic form) has blossomed.” – Andy Votel