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Japan Society’s Adventurous Eclecticism: Spotify Playlist

Yu Sakai at Japan Society October 2011

“When I book artists to play at Japan Society, it is a bit like being a DJ. In both instances, I am trying to share a ‘!!!!’ moment with the listener, a moment when I feel I have heard something truly original, something I have never heard before,” says the society’s Artistic Director Yoko Shioya. To demonstrate her point the Japan Society has announced it’s new season program with a special Spotify playlist highlighting a cross section of performers who have graced their stage. The 24 song listening experience, compiled by Shioya, gives a clear perspective of the delicious array of styles that the society has hosted over the past six years. The playlist can be accessed on any computer or portable device running Spotify.

1. Oorutaichi – Futurelina (EYE Remix)
2. Bang On A Can All-Stars – Sunray
3. Vijay Iyer – Forgotten System
4. Somei Satoh – Ruika
5. Hiromitsu Agatsuma – Tsugaru Jongara-bushi (Kyu-bushi)
6. Yosuke Yamashita – J. G. Bird 
7. Nobukazu Takemura – Assembler Mix
8. Aoki Takamasa – mnd-sng01
9. Sachiko M – Detect
10. Hikashu – Nikoseron
11. Yamantaka Eye – Anarchy Way
12. Keiji Haino – Aria I
13. Mike Patton – Inconsolable Widows In Search Of Distraction
14. Ken Ueno – Kaze-no-Oka
15. Bill Laswell – Improvised Music #2
16. John Zorn – You Rang?
17. Afrirampo – Afrirampo
18. Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury: The Pilgrimage
19. Akiko Yano – Omoide No Sampo-michi
20. Ikue Mori – Ghostlake
21. Teiji Ito – Quetzalcoatl I: Opening Chant/Gemstones
22. Ryoji Ikeda – Test Pattern #0100
23. Yu Sakai – Kiss Of Life (Live From Tokyo)
24. Asobi Seksu – Strawberries
25. Otomo Yoshihide – 2*10′
26. Christian Marclay – One Thousand Cycles

Love Yu Live…
I had the pleasure of covering Cibo Matto’s performance as part of last season’s offerings. Their opening act, keyboardist/vocalist Yu Sakai, performed an engaging blend of pop and soul with great skill and instantly became a favorite of mine. His set slyly opened with a beautiful rendition of “Sukiyaki”, to this day the only Japanese language song to reach number one on the U.S. pop charts.

Sakai went on to use his synth workstations and loopers to build rhythm tracks and shimmering layers of vocal harmonies live on stage. Step by step he constructed a sonic cathedral over which he floated his lead vocal. His cover of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” using this method must be experienced live. With his mellifluous voice, knowledge of the past and eye to the future, Sakai is a contender for international pop supremacy. I hope he will return to New York as a headliner sometime in the near future.

Catch an exclusive interview and a bit of Yu’s Japan Society performance here.

Get It On, Bang A Can…
The late 2012 program includes a November 16 booking of xeno-noise architect Taichi Moriguchi, musically known as Oorutaichi. Moriguchi has been experimenting since the 90’s and his kitchen sink grooves sound like everything from 8-bit tweaking to Raymond Scott and Spike Jones fighting their way out of your broom closet.

Scheduled for December 8 is Bang On A Can’s performance of a newly commissioned work by jazz artist Vijay Iyer. Iyer’s piece is inspired by traditional Japanese art of the Rimpa School . To expand the experience Art Director Shioya reports, “An exhibition of priceless Rimpa works will run concurrently at Japan Society…providing audiences with a rare opportunity to see both the product and the inspiration.”

The complete line-up for fall through spring 2012/2013, including performances and workshops, can be found here. Tickets and Memberships can be purchased at Japan Society’s website.

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