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Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Live at Daikanyama Unit 11/7/08

Written by: 13 July 2008 17 Comments

I feel like stinkfinger is sitting comfortably between the ramblings of a group of friends and a slightly more professional music blog – so I don’t have any problem with diverting immediately from the topic at hand and dialling back the night a few hours.

We start the night off at a resturant with some excellent dinner – along with my friends Daniel and Ayako I eat various sashimi, some fantastic beef tataki, something delicious and rubbery that I hope was octopus, a large piece of cooked tuna, crumbed and fried shiitake mushrooms, prawn gyoza, and some great chicken soup. Alongside several beers I am pretty happy by the time we head over to unit (stopping briefly to fortify ourselfs with mysterious japanese energy drinks).

The club unit is in Daikanyama which is a district of Shibuya in central Tokyo – the district seems fairly upmarket and the club is once again tucked away unobtrusively down some stairs. We arrive about 11.30 and head down. The club is set out on 3 levels which you access by heading further and further underground down a central staircase. The first bar is the most well lit and contains a kitchen (possibly it is a resturant during earlier evening). As we enter some fairly low key minimal techno is on the agenda, with about 100 or so people, mostly sitting down and enjoying the visuals and chatting. The crowd at unit (tonight at least) is much more Japanese than the other week at womb, with only a handful of foreigners in the club. Like most techno gigs back in Auckland the crowd is around 80% male – Daniel is surprised by this, I am surprised he is surprised.

Down the staircase a few levels to the main room (think about galatos main room size). This room (tonight at least) comes close to the ideal club environment for me – large enough for a good atmosphere but not too packed, hardly any lighting apart from the odd colourful flash here and there (there is a mirror ball but it is used with a great deal of restraint), and a great, clear soundsystem. A big dark room full of bass basically, and at the moment the man supplying the bass is Fumiya Tanaka – rolling heavy basslines out of the speakers – you can feel and hear the air being pushed around by the waves of bass. Or at least that is how it felt. More about him later, as we head down to the final room at the very bottom of the stairway. This room contains a bar and an area the size of someones garage, at the end of which are two massive speaker stacks – currently these are blasting out roots reggae and old dub records being played on one turntable by an enthusiastic Japanese dj – betweeen records he gets on the microphone (presumably intro’ing the next record) and uses echo effects on his own voice (inna deejay style). I’m quite into this and we stay down there for awhile. Up in the main room – flying rhythms (a duo of drummers) are doing what seems to be an improv set using various percussion and effects. It is pretty cool, with lots of strange noises rolling under the surface, and again the sound is fantastic. We listen for awhile but after awhile get annoyed by the lack of repetitive, danceable beats (simple folks with simple needs, us) and head up to the top bar for some vodka and nice enough IDM laptop jams from a random Japanese guy.

A bit later, following some more great and very laid back house from Fumiya Tanaka, the trio hit the stage in the mainroom. Sasu Ripatti (aka Vladislav, Luomo etc) sits down behind the heavy mic’d up drum and percussion set, Max Loderbauer stands behind synths and effects, and Moritz makes some last minute adjustments to his machines. As you may expect things are fairly serious and initially there is no overriding groove, with Sasu starting off gentle percussive rattles and Moritz and Max providing subtle effects and melodies. Gradually a rhythm builds, and pulses of bass begin to warp and fly from the speaker. About 10 minutes in Moritz builds and introduces THAT bass – the heavy boom and echo that underpins the many great basic channel and rhythm and sound records. People start to sway as more drums from sasu hit in over the top. The music continues for about 10 or 15 minutes, then reaches a break, the bass falls out, the melody max is supplying gets warped and twisted, and the percussive touches change pace. The music spirals away in another direction, and people continue to dance. The trio play for maybe an hour and a quarter. I am in a quietly tranced out(sorry) state for a large portion of their set, along with, it seems, most of the crowd. The music on offer has been much closer to improv jazz, or dub, than techno (apart from the odd 4/4 rhythm or spiral of housey chords), but people seem generally to have enjoyed it.

Daniel has left having to get up for work at the ungodly hour of 5am but I have another hour and a half up my sleeve, thanks to the trains shutting down between 12pm and 5am. Thankfully Fumiya Tanaka is playing again and again really impresses me – I was expecting a much heavier set from him, but it would seem he has been influenced by the ricardo/luciano team, and he spins drum heavy but laidback house throughout his set – the inescapable ‘Orbitallife’ from Johnny D is the only record I recognise and is a good summation of the sound of Tanaka’s set – lots of drums but accessible and fun! I had a look for a good set from him for an example of his skills for you guys but no luck yet.

I leave at 5am with a 15 minute walk back to the station. The sun is well up, the roads are already busy, and it is going to be another humid day. I negotiate the vast levels of Shinjuku station (made easier by the comparative lack of people) and make my way down to the subway. The first train back to the suburbs is crowded with businessmen and partygoers sleeping off their hangovers. I jump on the train and a few minutes later am dozing as well.


  • The Ninja said:

    Excellent writeup Benny – would love to get my sway on to “THAT bass”! I also note a distinct lack of minimal scarfs from the photos.

    I had a quick hunt for a Fumiya Tanaka set to link, but couldn’t find anything from the last couple of years. I have now set myself a challenge!

  • thedrake said:

    Nice! I am now kicking myself for not catching them. Dang.

    I think Mike is thinking of the Galatos main room… methinks you guys spent WAY too much time going to alternative gigs and not enough techno gigs (majority of the techno parties I’ve done have always had a even M/F split… it’s just when you nerds do them that’s it a sausagefest heh).

  • Benny said:

    Yeah, to be fair those photos aren’t from the gig I attended (I’m not that organised) but there were definitely no minimal scarfs at the Tokyo gig. Mainly cause it is 28 degrees plus here at the moment! Sasu has a pretty great John Coltrane t-shirt in the photo there though.

    I will keep searching for Tanaka set as well – I forgot to mention he did play one other tune I knew – Luciano remix of Good Love.

    Haha Matt – how many girls were at Superpitcher, was it 2 or 3 😛

  • McBean said:

    You need one of these things boss:


  • thedrake said:

    Actually, there were at least 30… so out of 60 people that’s about half right?

    But since I didn’t promote it – must have been luck.

    (what does the nap helmet say McBean? “Warning – if helmet comes unstuck injury or death may occur?”)

  • Mick said:

    Drake – I even said Galatos Main room…. haha

    We did spend a lot of time at all sorts of gigs but i would still say that the majority of international electronic dj’s who came over, i’m thinking Andy Vaz etc, attracted more guys. Deetron? there weren’t many girls at that… what internationals did you bring again?

  • Mick said:

    Mayer! of course. best gig Auckland saw

  • thedrake said:

    As I said, if you go to nerd gigs, you get nerds… no matter what style.

    Don’t think you guys have been to many of the things I’ve worked on.

    In fact, the reason why my gigs were probably working is that you nerds didn’t show up! hahahaha

    Mayer – one of the better gigs of the the past few years, but defiantly only 7/10 for a good Auckland techno gig imo.

  • Benny said:

    What other gigs are you talking about man – I think you are maybe thinking of some halcyon age of techno(?), or at least a few years ago when I was in the drum and bass years of my youth and not attending techno gigs so much.. In fairness there were always girls at beatstreet etc 🙂

  • thedrake said:

    We’re all nerds round these parts man! Don’t fret…

  • berusplants said:

    Pretty good right up mate, but I would have to be more negative about the main act. Not that they were bad, and in their early set they even touched on danceably deep with protracted spells of beats and impressive bass waves, deep echos, hell even Sasu and his nuts didnt sound too bad. I think the second set fell pretty flat though. Certainly not helped by the DJ (moochy I think) before them who was all over the place in a badly mixed way, but their set just werent suited to a packed club of people wanting to dance. Sat afternoon in a festival sat in a field with a few spliffs it would have knocked my socks off, hell it would have even been better in a concert setting I thing, were you could sit back and let it wash over you but there, well it was disappointing overall. Id expected a lot given who it was, perhaps too much. Ach well, some other good stuff there, Fumiya bang on as ever, and there was some nice sounds downstairs later on, whoever that was. As for MVO, well Im looking forward to the album, but not taken by the ‘live’!

  • Benny said:

    Yeah I missed the first set – (that was probably while I was having dinner) – sounds like I would have enjoyed that even more. I don’t disagree that the second set would probably have been better suited to a concert environment rather than a club. I guess when there’s improvisation there will always be sections that work and sets or sections that don’t. There was some cool stuff downstairs later on but damn it was smoky! So I didn’t stay long down there. It is taking me awhile to adjust to smoky bars and clubs.

    Thanks for the comment – you don’t have any links to recent Tanaka sets btw?

  • thedrake said:

    Someone expected Maurizio to play ‘dancy’??

    I know what you mean, but he’s always played Japan and played what he always plays.
    Pretty sure 90% of the people who go check him out know to expect a lot of weirdness, rather than clubby bangers!

  • chrisdisco said:

    lucky bugger…

    here is a fumiya set from last year:

    Fumiya Tanaka – Live @ Fat City-Filter, San Francisco, 28-04-07


    the man really knows.

  • The Ninja said:

    cheers for that chris

  • Benny said:

    Thanks for the link.

  • berusplants said:

    Didnt really mean I expected a Dancy set but something at least energising if you see what I mean! I went to the Raster Noton night last year, and Alva Noto’s set, while not being dancy was wierder, more powerful and so loud that despite the relatively low tempo was still a great experience in a club setting. My disappointment maybe comes from that it wasnt the same kind of experience with MVO.
    The over crowded dance floor didnt really help either!

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