[I won’t make a big deal about the year-long break between posts, so this will be the only mention. A lot’s been going on, but no one reads this blog and I feel mildly schizophrenic having this particular conversation with myself in this space. Also, regarding the lyrics at the bottom: They aren’t online anywhere and my Japanese still isn’t amazing. I transcribed while listening, but it’s possible that my spelling is off a little. ごめんね。]
This post features more tags than perhaps any of my others because the artists involved are hard to pin down. Shuta Hasunuma (蓮沼執太) is an artist and multi-instrumentalist who has collaborated across several media, working primarily as an avant-garde composer and performer with the Shuta Hasunuma Philharmonic Orchestra. His solo recordings could primarily be described as ambient electronic music or IDM, often incorporating homemade instruments and manipulating original samples. He has previously collaborated with the likes of Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, but even at his most experimental Hasunuma’s work has had an underlying pop sensibility.
U-zhaan (ユザーン) is perhaps Japan’s most accomplished tabla player. He was formerly a member of one of my favorite oddball groups, Asa-Chang＆巡礼, and a collaborator with the late producer Rei Harakami. Lately he’s been kicking out the food jams with art-rap misfits Kakato (aka Chinza Dopeness and Roy Tamaki).
Last year, the two artists combined forces to great effect on the album 2 Tone, creating something that felt more cohesive than and stronger than their seemingly disparate talents would lead one to believe. Peaceful synths and syncopated tabla rhythms provide the through-line, punctuated by occasional bursts of digital noise and vocal contributions from guests Arto Lindsay and Devendra Banhart. Not until the penultimate track, “Dryer,” does Hasunuma give in to his pop sensibilities, taking the lead vocal and performing the most straight-forward song on the album.
This more recent song, “Bagel,” is in the same vein as “Dryer.” It seems to be a loosie as opposed to a b-side or upcoming single and was released to Youtube via the artists’ Twitter accounts. U-zhaan commented that lyrics were based on Hasunuma’s sentiments “I say I live in New York, but is it true?” The song is a light-hearted and amusing meditation on sense of place, matched in tone by the video which follows the singer as he ambles around New York instagramming squirrels and his Chipotle burrito. It has some simple and infectious melodies which were what I found stuck in my head this morning.
“Today’s lunch was a bagel. That’s a lie, it was takoyaki. In Brooklyn I drank champagne. That’s a lie, it was chuhai.”