A collection of Japanese covers, remixes, pastiche, breakcore, retro and beyond, culled after reading Simon Reynolds' Retromania.
I was a huge fan of Simon Reynolds' Rip It Up And Start Again, a terrific critical and social history of British and American 80s post-punk. So when Retromania was published, I descended on a copy like the admitted culture vulture that I am.
It's a brilliant book. I think anyone interested in pop music, or more generally, in pop culture, should read it. But I didn't agree with all of it. And I definitely wasn't sympathetic to the book's almost non-existent coverage of non-Western pop. If you've read the book yourself, you can probably guess what chapter raised most of my hackles. That's right, Chapter 5: Turning Japanese: The Empire of Retro and the Hipster International. The one chapter that even acknowledges that other cultures produce pop--in this case, Japanese Shibuya-kei artists.
I'm hardly an expert on Japanese pop music. I've been there twice for very limited visits. I do have, however, a rather fabulous collection of CDs and MP3s of Japanese alt pop that, if nothing else, proves that this music is about something more than mere "consumer affluence." Also, it isn't particularly "Japanese" to mimic others in the creation of one's "own" pop culture. This is something the entire First World is adept at/reliant upon, especially the British, and especially 60s British pop artists.
I'm not going to launch a critique of the book--which you can (and should) read for yourself. Instead, I've put together a sonic riposte that, whether or not you've read Reynold's book, I'm pretty sure you'll love.