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