2014 So Far: Momus/Minekawa, AbiSabs und More

Posted in abikyokan, Black Sabbath, call and response records, cover versions, craig eee, david bowie, DJ, DJ Emerald, fancy numnum, farm party, Hysteric Picnic, ian martin, koenji, Koenji Art Bar Ten, live, live review, Minekawa Takako, momus, recording, timebred, tokyo gig guide, Uncategorized, Young Fratellis on February 22, 2014 by abikyogra

grant mcgaheran 2014.1.12Evening all. Hope your 2014 is going smoothly and you have not been too inconvenienced by flooding or Schneechaos. I’m good thanks, hanging with my lovely family, working on a new Abikyokan song that sounds like a fusion of Van der Graaf Generator, Add N To (X) and Ghouls N Ghosts, and looking forward to another happy trip to Yorkshire.

Time to catch up with the first few musical months of the year many are already calling the 14th year of the 21st century.

2014 kicked off with a hugely entertaining Farm Party at Shibuya Ruby Room. It was a lovely night with a big and game audience and an excellent line-up. Abikyokan were proud to take our place in such a glittering firmament, and I do hope we didn’t disappoint. Huge thank yous to those who came up to me afterwards with kind words about the set and our recorded output. It means the world to me. abikyokan 2014.1.12abikyokan 2014.1.12 2

The line-up was one of the best ever. Fancy Numnum wowed with a subtle, shy and measured take on indie disco that rewards close listening and shames bellowed conversations. They’re a very special band and I hope we get a chance to play with them again.

fancy numnum ruby room 2014.1.12

Young Fratellis were anything but subtle, and that’s their charm. Big-hearted, inclusive electropop and performance art/megadance.

young fratellis ruby room 2014.1.12

Hysteric Picnic went down very well with a kind of highly-manicured, retro-fitted, art-rock ‘n’ roll attack. One of the members had a ferret around his neck.

hysteric picnic ruby room 2014.1.12

Was a huge pleasure to see all these bands, and to DJ with Timebred (Chris Carlier), DJ Emerald (Makino Eri) and craig eee (craig eee), a wonderful, odd-and-danceable DJ foursome that hasn’t occurred for too long. I was a bit worried my hentai cosmic explorations and mournful Italo might not please the crowd after Hysteric Picnic’s maximum rock blast, but the people were seen to dance, and I was given quite a lot of tequilla shots, which I passed on to an increasingly profound Jake. Huge thanks to all the superb DJs and bands, the staff at Ruby Room who were so kind and such great fun, and everyone who came.

On January 17th I got to see two musicians I admire a great deal, Minekawa Takako and Momus, at the indelibly crimson Koenji UFO.  As an additional treat, our own Koenji Kaiser Ian Martin was manning the CDJ. How could anyone miss such a show? Not I.

Minekawa was on first, presenting a hypnotic series of minimal transmissions that brought to mind Laurie Anderson and Terry Riley. There was a constant buzz and hum from some onstage gear that may well have been unintentional, but sounded to me of a piece with the gently unfolding, hushed undulations of the music, which were only barely louder than the buzz. It required great concentration to stand rapt through the set in an uncomfortably crowded club, and I felt equal parts enjoyment, inspiration and frustration at not being able to truly focus on what I was hearing. I noticed Momus was watching intently, and his video review of the gig was eloquent and pretty much spot-on, though it seems to have disappeared from the internet since I watched it. Was it just a dream? But Minekawa-san definitely did have a record on her head. That was no dream. For this I have photographic evidence.

takako minekawa koenji ufo by grant mcgaheran 2014.1.7Momus was a treat. Though somebody singing along to pre-recorded tunes on a computer might not sound riveting, and usually isnae, once you add in Momus’ great live vocal delivery (quite removed from the Gainsbourgian murmur of many of his recordings), adorably awkward interpretive dance shapes and generous helpings of gallows humour, you have a spellbinding cabaret. He is a born entertainer, as much a George Formby as a Howard Devoto. He looked young and spry, and there was an irresistable twinkle in his one eye. Expecting to hear a lot of material from new and nutso album Bambi, I was rather taken aback to hear so many of his classics. But as a massive fan I couldn’t help but be delighted. Present too, were a superb cover of one of my favourite Magazine songs, Parade, last year’s beautiful interpretation of Bowie’s Where Are We Now and and a spellbinding version of Ashes to Ashes that brought out the aggressive, screaming heart of the song. I detect more and more Bowie in Momus as the years go by, not only in the wry yet stately music but also in the pierrot jerks and sudden shifts from crooning Scott to anguished Brel. Nick, you’re a legend.

momus koenji ufo by grant mcgaheran 2014.1.17

February 7th, the night before Tokyo was severely snow-blasted with snow in a truly epochal snow-blizzard (it was Saturday and I enjoyed every second), Jake and I went to see our consistently Extonite bandmate Craig Exton play bass for Servals. The first time I saw them they had used a drum machine, as the drummer had had a family emergency, but this time she was back on stage and the difference was startling. There was much more oomph and and motorik glide to the groove, and I was impressed again how Kohei, Emily and Craig manage to sound both loud and hushed, and waste not a single note on their journey to some Mancunian-German groove planet.

servils mona records 2014.2.7

Abikyokan were delighted to be asked by Call and Response Records’ Ian Martin to cover Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, for a Valentine’s Day compilation of covers of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. I am anything but a fan of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, but this made the task of recording a cover of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid a great deal more fun, and I reckon we ended up with at least an intriguing cover of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. Tatsumi and I are tiresomely vocal fans of geuinely eccentric NDW collective Liaisons Dangereuses, who I think have influenced us greatly, but to whom we haven’t paid direct tribute. This was our chance! I set about creating an icy synth bass pattern for us to scat over. Trying to cover Paranoid in the studio, Tatsumi had started playing an evil clavinet riff which brought to mind 1972 funk megahit Superstition. Hmm. Sabbath. Superstition. We wanted this sound on the recording too,  as some kind of dismal magic or baleful curse, and I made sure I made a beat not too dissimilar to Stevie Wonder’s own, to continue the association. It also needed to be 120bpm. If people can use Another One Bites The Dust for CPR, then why not our NDW/funk/metal offering? Or why? Once these elements were in place, Craig anchored the wayward funk with a rock-solid bassline and further accentuated the madness with surly effects, I added a Normal-esque minimal intro section, and Jake improvised a vocal and guitar solo, both hysterical. Time, time, time! Listen:

The compilation features many wonderful covers of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, most of which thankfully transcend the original. Read all about it and download it for free here.

abikyokan goatbabe 2014.1.24 2abikyokan goatbabe 2014.1.24There was also a splendid gig to celebrate the release of the compilation, at Koenji Art Bar Ten. Not only was there sweet music, but also a rare chance to gaze in awe at Ian’s bewitching artistic vision.

ian martin koenji 2014.2.16The gig was choice. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with Abikyokan and talking to all the lovely people afterwards, and the big bottles of beer, and the cold pink room with the art in it, and the naked Tin-Tins.
The other band on the bill were the umpromisingly-named Uruseeyo. To be fair, our band is also umpromisingly-named, and indeed we often deliver on that unpromise. The Urusee element was perhaps the singer, but musically it was pretty interesting. I thought the drummer had a good Kosmische feel. I asked him if he was influenced by Jaki Liebezeit or Danny Taylor. He said no, he wasn’t, and looked afeard.
Tatsumi posed with a taxi and a sign.

abikyokan koenji art bar ten 2014.2.16 3abikyokan koenji art bar ten 2014.2.16 2abikyokan koenji art bar ten 2014.2.16

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2013 – Catching Up With The Abiness and The Muzik und More

Posted in abikyokan, DJ, farm party, fashion crisis, maxentius on January 4, 2014 by abikyogra

abikyokan 2013.10

Hi gang. It’s 2014 – an incredible 40 years since the three-day week, a solemn thirty since the tragic last curtain-call of Tommy Cooper, and a full twenty since Maxx’s Get-A-Way changed the face of music forever. It’s also the tenth anniversary of the founding of Tokyo’s only American-Australian-British-Japanese-Orcadian oddpop ensemble, Abikyokan, but more about that very soon.

It’s been a mostly very pleasant year, a particular highlight being introducing my little boy to the Sheffield and Birmingham clans in August, trundling him along the seafront at Cleethorpes, down, and less enjoyably up, very steep Steep Hill in Lincoln and down dirt paths twixt the ancient trees and grumpy medieval musicians of Sherwood Forest.

The downside of domestic happiness is having less time for friends and music (though the impossibility of all-night events in Shibuya is a definite plus), but that also means that what I do have time for I always greatly appreciate.

Better never than late, but let’s catch up with my fading musical memories of the previous year.

abikyokan shibuya ruby room 2013.5.10 by nami kato

The blog left off in May, as Abikyokan were about to play at another of Craig Exton’s glorious Farm Parties. And what a gig it was. I faced perhaps the most unusual economy/comedy drum kit in my long and bitter experience of unusual economy/comedy drum kits, which had mostly fallen apart by the third song and which had half of a hi-hat as a crash cymbal and a kick that sounded like a leper’s death fart, and there were mumblings from all the AbiLads about ominous sound issues, but we were lucky indeed to face a magnificent crowd who egged us on, danced to the undanceable, and gladly embraced our expanding universe of avant-catchy AbiNowness.

The Romans-themed songs had become fully-formed and unstoppably strange, and we spent a large part of the year trying to record them to our satisfaction. Sadly, though, we had moved from the sonically-limited but easy-to-use Garage Band to some superior and awesome software that was nevertheless unpredictable, faulty and annoying to use. The disheartening result was that despite amassing heaps of recordings and spending hours upon hours honing the songs at Goatbabe, we eventually had to give up on them, move to a kinder program and start all over again. Frustratingly, we’d also come up with still more new songs during the year, putting us even further behind schedule.

abikyokan goatbabe recording 2013.8.30

But you can hear the first of the Romans set, the deceptively-tranquil Maxentius, and we will hopefully also release its companions Diocletion, Constantia, Chrysopolis and also a new song we’ve been playing live, tentatively-titled Cleopatra, in the first half of the new year. Who knows when, if ever, our electro song specifically designed to aid CPR and inspired by Queen’s Another One Bite The Dust, or our acid house meets dark medieval history epic Village Night will emerge.

Recording Maxentius was a real pleasure. The song was born in a jam in late 2012, when Tatsumi started playing a lovely, bucolic organ riff which vaguely brought to mind Genesis at first and then Egg as the song went on. I added to this a beat based on one of my favourite Stereolab songs, The Flower Called Nowhere, bringing in a kick thump as Craig brought in his deep and anchoring bass, and finally Jake’s memorable guitar line and extraordinary lyric emerged. The song developed further live, and we added a droning end section indebted to 1970s Germanity and, in my case, Bowie’s Chant of the Ever-Circling Skeletal Family.
As usual though, we had no desire to replicate the live sound when we came to record the song. Recording drums is a massive drag, but more importantly we like to have a different, more electronic and other-worldly sonic image for our recordings. Accordingly I started with a robotic approximation of my live beat using an iPhone approximation of a TR-808. This immediately altered the atmosphere of the song, adding an encroaching industrial menace to the country serenity. It took a while to get right, but I think the performances on this track elevate it from an interesting psychedelic jam into something greater, more hypnotic and pop. Jake’s very Bowie on this one, and I think his vocal works magnificently. The final sound is largely thanks to enormous and unflappable efforts by Craig and Jake to work out and tame the software, and a mammoth production session by Tatsumi, to which I added the sound of Arakawa waves and trucks passing overhead, recorded on October 31st, and a bit of fizzing synth.

abikyokan field recording hirai 2013.10.31

Jake drew cover art that we all felt was absolutely perfect for the song, and Maxentius was finally released at the end of November. I think we were all really proud of the new song. Here are some more photos of us creating Maxentius, and others that have yet to see the light of day.

abikyokan recording jacob arntson 2013.7.12abikyokan goatbabe recording 2013.11.1abikyokan goatbabe 2013.11.1The last one captures the most important creative moment of all.

Abikyokan played one more live show in 2013, in October at Akasaka Crawfish, guests of Boys Of Hong Kong. Again the gear was rubbish, but again people were very nice to us about the sounds we had thrown about on stage and the strange papers fastened to our synthesizer. Somehow the live shows never live up to the promise of the noise we carve out in rehearsal, although we’re happy for it to sound completely different to the recordings we release.

abikyokan akasaka crawfish 2013.10.13

I bet all bands feel the same though. In most livehouses you can’t really hear what the audience can, and you do tend to focus on mistakes that the audience, judging the whole song and not just your part, wouldn’t care about.

Certainly the few live bands I was able to enjoy in 2013 sounded superb. OPQ at Farm Party 9 in June created a beautiful, undulating and hypnotic sound. I wanted to catch their show again and collaborate with them. I think an ABK-OPQ soundclash could result in some very agreeable sonic vistas.

opq koenji dynamo 2013.6.23

I really enjoyed Sayuu at Koenji Pop Festival in November. Their music is precise, rigid and brutalist, echoing the harsh early sounds of XTC and Cardiacs, but like those bands and unlike most bands who are influenced by them, always leavening the assault with humour and winning tunes. They were impossible to ignore during their set, a captivating percussive thud that rendered the musty air in the livehouse their own.

sayuu koenji nimandenatsu 2013.11.2

Longtime mate Ian Martin introduced me to Sayuu, and it was great to see him out and about a lot this year. Another of his favourites are the impressive and ungoogleable Group A, who I saw perform a blistering September gig in Koiwa. A unit with a strong perfomance art aspect, but with a solid Velvets/TG-based art/noise rock sound that transcends their striking visual impact.

group a koiwa bushbash 2013.9.8

Another Ian gig I enjoyed was the Quit Your Band event on his birthday in July. I didn’t want to quit my band but I did enjoy the varied and rocking acts from the Penguin House stairs, and got so drunk I felt I could see time and confidently discuss Johnny Hallyday with a genuine Frenchman. Ian is a legend.

ian martin koenji penguin house 2013.7.13

And what else? My music taste during the year oscillated wildly between noon-bright neo-Italo like Lindstrøm & Todd Terje’s Lanzarote, Childhood-evoking, Inner City-type bass synth house like Duke Dumont’s Need U (100%), and of the course the heaps of actual Italo I DJed when kindly asked to, and the mysterious, ancient and intriguing sound world evoked by  Pentangle, Lal & Mike Waterson’s Bright Phoebus and more recent oddness by Belbury Poly. I rediscovered The Smiths and Todd Rundgren too, hearing both with new ears and renewed awe. Bob Stanley’s Yeah Yeah Yeah was far and away my favourite book of the year, leading to many new and wonderful discoveries and starting an unhealthy hobby of tweeting entire UK Top 40s from der past.

The year ended very agreeably, DJing two very different sets that reflected my musical obsessions of the year – prog, folk, psychedelic in the first and electro and Italo in the second – at Ian Martin and James Hadfield‘s lovely Fashion Crisis event. A super crowd, lots of magic dancing and good times. Here’s small electrobot Gloomy doing her thing as I waited to drop my crackly mp3s and the mighty Dave McMahon pointed mysteriously at the ceiling.

fashion crisis 2013.12.6

Then one last gig, catching Craig playing metronomic indie-dance bass with Servals at Ebisu Batica. I managed four cans of combini Yona Yona upstairs before the staff made a gesture that I think meant No. But by then some band was leaping into the audience and gurning so it was time to take my old body home.

servals ebisu batica 2013.12.28

Big thanks to all who have tolerated my conversation and entertained me in 2013, and special love to those who’ve supported and believed in Abikyokan through another year. Abi’s future is uncertain at the moment as Jake will soon return to the US for good, probably in spring. At the very least, though, we hope to celebrate our ten years together with some gigs in the first few months of 2014, so do be there.

For starters, the first Abi rumblings of the year will take place at the next Farm Party, January 12th at Shibuya Ruby Room. Excellent line-up of bands and DJs, of which more very soon.

I’ll leave you with a rapid flash through some visual highlights from my travels in 2013.

Heppy Noo Yem!

My Instagram 2013☆

A post shared by Grant McGaheran (@grantmcgaheran) on

How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm Party?

Posted in 1000s of cats, abikyokan, DJ, farm party, tokyo gig guide on May 9, 2013 by abikyogra

tokyo gig guide farm party 8
Tokyo Gig Guide Craig Exton’s wonderful Farm Party returns this Friday, and three cheers to that. Why.
First of all, Farm Party is an excellent name for a music event. If you doubt me, simply do an image search for ‘farm party’ and be amazed and stunned by what *your* attendance at such a party might mean.
More importantly though, it has the ace pop sense and unflappable friendliness of our Craig behind it, a recipe that has led to some of the most relaxed and fun yet musically fascinating events I’ve experienced in my 13 years of Tokyo gig-going.
This time the action plays out at Shibuya Ruby Room, and the bands are the excellently-named 1000s Of Cats, the very appropriately-named-considering Come To My Party and the named-from-the-first-page-of-a-dictionary-of-obsolete-expressions Abikyokan.
1000s Of Cats I have seen live a few times, and they never disappoint. This is a raw and strict dose of percussive rock you need, administered with sass and style. And seriously lovely people. You will literally die.
Come To My Party I have yet to see, but with that name they pretty much have it in the bag. Don’t though -please- do an Instagram search for ‘cometomyparty’ as I did. Things are burned into my retina and soul which will need aggressive and dedicated counseling to erase.
Abikyokan – that’s us. You Know Abikyokan as You Know Faust. Recently we’re on a Roman history trip, with a dodgy history teacher obsessed with Gentle Giant, and the music is in a rocky, wry and redemptive place. There is beauty, and there is sincerity buried in mirth, mantras and Motorik. We’re standing in streams, measuring the width. We’ve got some soil samples and they’re troubling. We hope you love it.

abikyokan goatbabe 2013.4.5

This being Farm Party, there are a host of great DJs too. For example, Ian F. Martin – The Dude, the Koenji Indiemanster, the looming Bristolian who can talk Yugoslav history and zyder, play a ripping new wave mega-tune and smuggle cans of beer into a live venue all at the same time without bumping his head despite being over nine feet tall. Someone for whom I have risked *dense glass on the dance floor* to frug in tribute to his playing of earth-shifting cuts by Kid Creole and Bryan Ferry. All this, plus The Dad Jackets and Timutaku. That’s Timutaku, not the famous Kimutaku (he can’t DJ and doesn’t know shit about good music) or even kimutako, the fusion of kimchee and octopus popular in Hirai and possibly elsewhere. I will also DJ, right at the start, when hopefully the sparse early customers will pity me enough to buy me beer and hear my dreadful stories.

Here’s the details – come!

Tokyo Gig Guide Presents: FARM PARTY 8
at Shibuya Ruby Room
Start: 18:30
Charge: 1000 yen plus 1 drink

Schedule:

18:30 – DJ Grant McGaheran
19:20 – DJ Timutaku
20:00 – 1000s OF CATS
20:40 – ABIKYOKAN
21:10 – DJ Ian Martin
21:40 – COME TO MY PARTY
22:10 – DJs The Dad Jackets

abikyogra tokyo gig guide farm party 8

Roman Folly Day: 2013’s first three months, in Abikyokan and more

Posted in 1000s of cats, abikyokan, asagaya, goatbabe, live, recording, tropen on March 17, 2013 by abikyogra

2013.3.8 tsukishima cat by grant mcgaheran
How is your 2013 going? Is the universe expanding as it should? Are you at peace with your relative insignificance and is the Sobu Line running?

I spent most of the first three months of the year at home with my son Rui, who has become a beautiful, dignified, funny, curious little boy with a lovely cheeky smile and ability to fart at astonishing volumes. The wonder on his face when I lift him up is the answer to a lot of questions for me about happiness, about the meaning of life. He can lift me from the darkest mood, and is teaching me a great deal that I never knew I needed to know.

Rui McGaheran 2013.3.9

With the responsibilites of being a father, I have much less time to listen to and make music and read books, and most of all to go out and walk around or see friends, but I feel more creative and more enthusiastic about doing these things now that there are significant limitations. I’m enjoying new music for the first time in years, learning German and discovering Shakespeare, making notes on Gravity’s Rainbow and walking from station to station listening to Station To Station, genuinely appreciating both drankin’ time with friends and snap-happy solitude and having more silly musical ideas and more confidence to offer them to the band than at any time for many years.

Abikyokan have begun recording our new EP of four songs at Goatbabe, a partly Ghouls & Ghosts rocking, partly spaced and loopy-chilled suite of electronic tunes with lyrics by Jake about ancient Rome. We debuted three of the songs at our last gig at Asagaya Yellow Vision last month and were really pleased with the response and how good it felt to play them.
I love the sounds we get at Goatbabe – its possibilities and limitations lead into sound worlds I enjoy, and we can properly relax too. The first thing we recorded there was Rock Lights, and I was very pleased with that, but I think the new EP goes further into a new kind of ambient but propulsive electronic groove. Played live, the songs have more in common perhaps with the lovely pomp of Queen, Cardiacs, King Crimson or Les Miserables (apparantly Jake’s model for recent vocal gymnastics), but in the studio some of that is subdued or illuminated with sounds which to me at least are more akin to records by Robert Wyatt, Laurie Spiegel, Disco Inferno, Brian Eno, recent Scott Walker or The Wurzels at their peak. We’re taking our time with this one, but I’m already excited by how it sounds. Also superb to be able to make loops and beats on the train or throne, thank you Herr Phone und Appen.

abikyokan goatbabe recording 2013.3.15  craig exton jacob arntson

abikyokan goatbabe recording 2013.3.15 tatsumi ochiai

The gig at Yellow Vision was a real pleasure. It was exciting to have new songs to play, but luckily we also remembered how to play them, the sound man and audience were on our side and we put as much as we possibly could into the performance. Best of all, I got to see some wonderful, funny and cheeky friends, most of them for the first time in far too long. Jake had some amazing stuff taped to the Microkorg, and we were joined on short wave radio by Naoe Miki, whose otherworldly frequencies sounded majestically right within our particular yellow vision.

abikyokan yellow vision 2013.2.24 by ogawa kyoko 2

Asagaya is always a good place to be. I’m not much of a west Tokyo person, but I love this town. It’s on a human scale, old, random and warm, and has my favourite tachinomiya Futa-kun, the premier place to relax before unleashing the AbiNoise. We also went to the Stone craft beer pub for the first time – how things have got gentler and nicer for us. Proper ale before a gig! As long as the music remains strange and unpredictable on stage I’m quite happy to be boring and safe jumper-dad off of it.
Garinoise, Miki and Nakagawa Ichiro were great people to play with, in that they are all preternaturally calm, open-minded and generous people, and the tiny staff of Yellow Vision were hugely helpful and obviously talented, as they got a very decent racket out of an unpromising-looking comedy club sound system. Decent nama, in a glass, 500 yen. All was good, except for encroaching hay fever.

2013.2.24 asagaya star road by grant mcgaheran

Oh, the hay fever. This year is bad, and I’m protecting myself with mask and glasses. Sure they steam up so I can’t see anything, and I look unforgivably dodgy, but, just like the man in the Cornetto advert I take-a no chances, I bring all six.

grant mcgaheran 2013.2

In January Craig and I caught up with old and inspirational friends Keita and Chie of TropeN, who played 1000s Of Cats‘ Animal Exchange Program event in a tiny studio in Otsuka. They unveiled a new, quiet and introspective reworking of previously edgy and angry songs, which sounded great. Reduced to the barest of arrangements it was easy to see what great songwriters they are, and Chie’s voice has grown from shaky beginnings into a truly captivating force. The Cats rocked too, with their attractive fusion of accessible cheerfulness and minimalist rockitude.

tropen otsuka orange studio 2013.1.12

All being well, Abikyokan should be playing live again next month or the one after that, hopefully in a beautifully bucolic Farm Party setting. Not sure when the EP will be ready but when it is, ho boy will you know about it.
Keep rocking mit Kyokan. We loves you.

abikyokan 2013.2.1

Nightmare Pop: Abikyokan Complete Music 2012

Posted in abikyokan on December 31, 2012 by abikyogra

abikyokan 2012.12.14

Abikyokan have released seven new songs and two videos this year, and you can hear/see/feel them all below, together with my unreliable and scandalous commentary.
Whether you’ve missed a few Abi moments this year, or simply want to remind yourself how odd we are, here is the Abikyokan 2012 laid out for you like a cruel smorgasbord.

THE FEAR EP (released June 1st 2012)

Abikyokan Fear EP front

The Fear EP began with rhythm tracks I made in January, which we then jammed in the studio. God (Bigfoot) and In The Woods had become the versions featured on the EP by the time of our live show at Synthesmic in February. Except for Fear itself, mixing took a long time. We were faced with some severe bass frequencies…
The cover is a photo of the Disco building in Iidabashi. There is no disco within the Disco Building, but there is a certain kind of dark disco within the Fear EP.

Like God (Bigfoot), this began with me making samples and minimal beats in my house in January – in this case fusing Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) and Frankie Valli’s The Night with a bass-heavy thump and unavoidable but atmospheric hiss from the Electribe. I took this strange background into the studio and the Abilads set about making into a mysterious techno torch song, the mistiness of the musical setting lending itself to foresty stories. My favourite Jake lyric, and a great song to play live.

The original recording of Fear took place in 2011, Jake and I laying down the drums and guitar live in the studio, with Craig and Tatsumi adding bass and space cello in the early part of this year. I really love how the sound came together on this one, the mixture of studio warmth and reverbed spaciness.

In January I was in a very electro mood, and set a militaristic beat to a loop of heavy synth bass and the sound of a Spectrum 48K game loading. This developed quickly into a new wave pop tune in the studio, and the live version we play now is rockier still.

The release of the Fear EP was preceded by this wonderful video for Fear by Craig…

and July saw a further troubling Craig visual representation of God (Bigfoot)…

THE 24 HOURS EP (released August 30th 2012)

abikyokan 24 hours ep front

Whereas the Fear EP had two songs created from scratch, the 24 Hours EP included two that we’d played live for a couple of years and wanted to pin down and torment in the studio. We added one more song based on a Jake demo that we all loved. This is our loudest release and, despite the amount of time we spent recording and mixing it, our most live-sounding.
The cover is a photo of some crates on a very hot day in Tateishi.

24 Hours has a long history in Abikyokan’s live repertoire. Here we attempt a definitive version, introduced by VENOM. Craig’s wife Mari was haunted by the catchy guitar melody, but it failed to set fire to the charts. I think my introductory “Tssshccsssh!” deserves a place in the Rockin’ Hall Of Fame too.

Your Tattoo was a Jake demo which we all decided was ace and we wanted to do as Abikyokan. Like Fear, this came together quickly and I love the atmosphere created by Jake and Craigs’ duelling guitar and bass, Tatsumi’s electric piano and my transmissions from either space or a small whale.

Thicker Stuff is a live favourite of ours, as in the middle section we can groove indefinitely. That’s a truly evil keyboard sound, and the more songs we use it on the better in my opinion. This song probably has the largest number of possible influences of any song we’ve ever recorded. Have fun spotting them.

ROCK LIGHTS (Released December 7th 2012)

abikyokan rock lights

We’d originally planned to record a few songs we’d worked up in the studio for a final EP of the year, but got hooked on this one song that came from an improvisation at Kameido Goatbabe.

And the end of the year finds us gazing into Rock Lights. I hope you like our soft wintry touchdown.
A lovely video shall follow in early 2013, and for our next project we’ll be collaborating live and hopefully also in the studio with our friend Naoe Miki, master of dubby short wave radio…

Thanks for hearing us this year.

2012 In Cats

Posted in cats on December 30, 2012 by abikyogra

2012 – Abikyogra’s Instagram Year

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2012 by abikyogra

I’ve had a lot of fun taking photos this year, and here are some of my favourites.
This year I was heavily into blue (and in November I would become the proud father of a son whose name means a kind of blue!), pointing my phone directly at the sun, walking extensively, often with a beer and without any plan through unsung neighbourhoods and trying to document the beauty, humour, light and colour that impressed me there.
A big thank you to all my followers on Instagram for being so lovely and cheering me up every single day with their fantastic photos.