My exposure to contemporary Japanese music ranges from the most ear-gagging rivers of dissonant noise to the most ear-gagging saccharine mega-pop hits, with regrettably little in between.
So hearing that giant consumer brand Sony has been filming experimental musicians to promote its line of Walkman digital music devices seems to make perfect sense to these American ears. Details in English are obviously hard to come by, but, according to Japanese pop culture blog Pink Tentacle, they've been making these web videos for years.
We're guessing none of them have made it into mass-market campaigns, and they don't involve any Walkman products in any way, but they are fascinating and, really, far more accessible than some of the most wacked out underground Japanese sounds we've heard. Here's a downtempo live track from interactive media designer Taeji Sawai, who paints sound with light:
Tucker is a DJ who works with live sounds as samples, and, in another video, he creates a track using mostly kitchen sounds as he sort-of cooks things. It's not embeddable, but this Walkman video, featuring alarm clocks and kids toys, is. And it's rad:
Our favorite is probably Atsuhiro Ito, who plays an instrument he calls the Optron, a flourescent light with contact mikes processed through who-knows-what kinds of effects. It sounds like an electric guitar but screechier:
Check out Pink Tentacle for more, including Fuyuki Yamakawa, who literally plays with a "bone conduction microphone" attached to his skull.