Back To Mine with Ken Ishii


A Japanese electronic music band YMO, Yellow Magic Orchestra, was huge in the country in the early 80’s and they got me deeply interested in electronic music although I was only ten years old. All their albums are great but this one is darker and more experimental than the others and quite influential to their followers.

Yellow Magic Orchestra BGM

Japan – Art of Parties

I think I got to know this band because their singer David Sylvian was a collaborator of Ryuichi Sakamoto from YMO. Sylvian’s characteristic voice, Mick Karn’s magical fretless bass and Richard Barbieri’s Prophet 5 synthesizer still attract me a lot.

Japan - The Art of Parties (Old Grey Whistle Test, 1982)

Devo – Timing X

I love them because all their music is happy and manic music with a twist, and they are super technical players. It was a great memory that I had an opportunity to play right after them at a festival in Tokyo called Summer Sonic. I watched their full set and they performed exactly like what they used to do in the ’80’s with their trademark movements and I was really impressed.

Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime

They were always unique and full of new ideas. Two albums by them, ‘Speaking In Tongues’ and ‘Remain In Light’ are my favourites. I also loved their documentary film ’Stop Making Sense’. I remember I used to frequent a mini cinema to watch the film when I was a high school student. Actually I covered this ‘Once In A Lifetime’ in the ’90’s but the label I was signed for at that time, R&S, never released it, unfortunately 🙂

Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime (Official Video)

New Order – Confusion

Their track ‘Blue Monday’ is apparently the best known but I do love this track as well. It reflects the band’s challenging attitude. I was like, “New Order goes American disco/electro after that big hit!?” It’s nice to see young Arthur Baker and the disco scene in NYC of that era in this video. 

New Order - Confusion (Official Music Video) [HD Upgrade]

D.A.F. – El Que

They might be the band that influenced me the most when I was a teen. Simple synth riffs, tight drums and aggressiveness – less is more, just perfect. It was a pleasure to meet them in person at a backstage of WIRE festival in Japan where I too was playing a live set. I feel sad Gabi Delgado passed away earlier this year.

DAF - El Que (Video)

King Crimson – Elephant Talk

It’s surprising that this band has been releasing music and touring for over 50 years. They have had some major changes in the musical directions so far and I love their music in the ’80’s, especially the ’Discipline’ album. Their techniques and skills as a musician are like beyond humans. This track still sounds unbelievable to me because, as you can see in the video, everything is played live and no sequencer or overdub is used at all.

King Crimson - Elephant Talk - Live on Fridays 1981-04-10

Steve Reich – Drumming

I often listen to minimal classical music late at night before going to bed. I respect Steve Reich the most among the big names of the genre. His music is always experimental and hypnotic. Influential to modern electronic music as well, I guess. I remixed his early work ‘Come Out’ a long time ago for his remix album which also includes Coldcut etc. He sent me his boxed CD later with a thankyou message and his signature on. This is my treasure.

Steve Reich Drumming - Portland Percussion Group

Lee Perry – Drum Rock

When I want to be relaxed and don’t want to think about music, I listen to dub reggae. Especially dark stuff without vocals like this one. There are lots of nice dark dub reggae mixes on YouTube. It’s a great feeling to get lost in analog echos and reverbs.

V.A. – Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit (Full Album)

This is a history making compilation. I guess lots of people got to know Detroit techno with this compilation in the late ’80’s like I did. Early tracks by all the techno pioneers from Detroit are included. I was totally blown away when I heard this and it made me make up my mind to produce techno, the music I still produce after 30 years!

Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit (Full Album)

Ken Ishii – Bionic Jellyfish (Electropical Records)

Electropical Records welcomes a legend to the label for this forward looking new single from Ken Ishii which comes with remixes by Drunken Kong and Luca Morris & Mozzy Rekorder. Ken Ishii is a legendary artist who debuted on R&S in the nineties and has remained an ever present musical force. He can do seminal and artful albums like Jelly Tones as well as visceral club 12″s and also produces music for films, runs his own label, 70 Drums and in normal times is a frequent headliner at all of Europe’s finest clubs. Here he serves up ‘Bionic Jellyfish’, seven intense minutes of deeply involving techno. The booming kicks bring the powerful groove while the synths are wispy, neon and fluid as they dart around the mix. This is all consuming, warm and welcoming techno with plenty of hi fidelity details that submerge you in sound. Remixers Drunken Kong is a project from prominent Tokyo pair D. Singh and DJ Kyoto who have been together since 2010. The mighty likes of Terminal M, Tronic and Unity have put out their hard hitting techno and here they take no prisoners. Their excellent remix gurgles and bubbles with acid menace as the hulking great kick drums rumble along and rattle your ribs. Last but not least, another techno mainstay, Beatport chart topper and Electropical regular Luca Morris hooks up with fellow Italian Mozzy Rekorder, who has achieved similar heights with his straight up techno goodness on labels like 100%. Together they flip ‘Bionic Jellyfish’ into an urgent techno banger with pulsing sonar melodies and bigs walls of synth that arrest your every sense.

Ken Ishii Title: Bionic Jellyfish Label: Electropical Records Release: 21st December 2020 Cat No: ER034 Format: vinyl, digital