This collection covers the years 2017-2020. It is a selection of songs from this productive period.
Here are some comments on the songs.
REINCARNATIONS (VOLUME 2)
Track 1: World of Flux (Nami no sekai)
This is a song I wrote after coming to Tokyo in 2019. The song was made in response to a challenge from a live space owner. He said, “I really want to hear you sing a song in Japanese! Why not try writing one and performing it the next time you play here?” And so, I quickly wrote this…But, actually the original arrangement I had done was completely different in that it had a sort of funky world music beat and feel to it, one I thought wouldn’t quite fit with the noisier, harder sound of the songs I had been performing live at the time. And so, I added some noise and created a heavier arrangement, which became this version. I may still have the earlier mix around somewhere, but, in any case, this was and is the final version. I have performed it a number of times, and there is also a music video with animation from Takeo Udagawa that I edited. In 2020, when I performed my “Birthday Live” show in Fukuoka, I opened the show with it, and in March of 2020 I did one more performance of this song in Tokyo as well.
Track 2: The Frayed Feather (Remix)
The original version of this will be released in December of this year on a separate compilation, but this is a different mix. This one has a bit of a Middle Eastern flavor to it, I think. The image of the feather came about when, for whatever reason, it had come into my mind at the time I was creating this song. I decided that I really wanted to take a photo of a feather for the cover of the LP, and, mysteriously enough, suddenly feathers began appearing all around me (hence, I got my feather photo for the cover!). As for the lyric “I could no longer sing,” this came about because, during the period before recording this song, I had lost my voice due to a cold. For this reason, I’d started composing my first-ever instrumental album, “Empathy,” and by the time I’d gotten to recording this song my voice had recovered enough to add this vocal part to it. The lyric, therefore, naturally arose when I started to sing.
Track 3: The Knife, It Wavered (for Brian Evenson)
The title of this track was inspired by Brian Evenson’s short story/collection “The Wavering Knife.” I discovered this philosophical horror story collection while living in Colorado, and it left a deep impression on me. Some years later, I was lucky enough to study under Professor Evenson as a graduate student in a writing program (MFA), and then, again, some years later, while in Fukuoka, I wrote this as a sort of tribute to him and his work. The song originally had appeared on an LP entitled “Red, My Dear,” but, as it has been out of circulation for some time now, I decided to share it again here.
Track 4: Heaven (Wanna Go Now)
I don’t remember which album I wrote this one for at present, but I do remember that this mix is a bit different from the one that had gone on it. Hearing these lyrics even now creeps me out a bit (laugh). A boy says to his mother, “I wanna go to heaven, right now!” during the chorus. And then he says, “Mama, are we in heaven yet?” I wonder what the heck I’d been thinking when I wrote these lyrics!
Track 5: Laughing Moon
Although I used the name of this for a project I had done from 2017 (it was an electronic and blues trio), I don’t necessarily consider this an essential song in my catalogue. However, I do think it’s a rather interesting track! The title of the song, “Laughing Moon,” is actually a direct translation of a volume of essays written by Japanese author Kobo Abe. There is the fake-ish laugh that presents itself at the beginning, the somehow happy (?) sounding uptempo beat and singing style, and yet…somehow the song seems to make the listener feel that something is a bit “off,” I think. Maybe a circus-feel, or, well, I don’t really know, but this song is to me a bit mysterious.
Track 6: Raging Storm (Remix)
This version is a short-form remix of the arrangement I did separately with piano. Hmm. I like it, and thought somehow it would fit this collection. It’s something like a b-side style remix, I guess one could say.
Track 7: Days Gone By
This is another slightly odd outtake. In around 2017, whilst still a bit hung up on my previous band’s breakup, I started recording an album of songs I’d written that we had performed together, in what were then new arrangements, and this “new song” (at the time) was to be the LP's title track. In the end I did finish the LP and made a few copies of it on CD to sell, but ultimately the other songs were distributed scatter-shot onto separate, subsequent releases, and so this track is now being officially released here for the first time.
Track 8: I Don’t Feel
In 2018 I quickly laid down a bunch of brand new “Industrial Rock” style heavy electronica tracks for an LP entitled “Digital Errors.” The final track was entitled “I Don’t Feel a Thing,” and was presented in a sort of chaotic-sounding mix. I used that track as the basis for this, but this version is in a completely different arrangement from it. You can hear a calmer-sounding version of it featuring the piano of Mr. Pianoman Darrell entitled “I Feel” on the compilation “Ephemeral Confluences I” (via all major streaming services).
Track 9: He Wanted to Leave
This also hails from the same “Digital Errors” project, but this mix was never used. It’s a heavy,“Industrial” sounding track.
Track 10: The Last Time
The intense drum loop here is the same as on the original version, but the difference between that mix and this is that I later added some noise to this one. There was also one other mix I did for this song, but that is no longer in circulation. It may be a bit difficult to hear the vocal from time to time, but this was intentional. As this track brings back some rather dark and bitter memories, I shall write no more about it here.
Track 11: City of Masks
In 2014 I entered as the lead vocalist for what was my first band in Fukuoka, and from that time started writing original songs a cappella (this was because at the time I could neither play the guitar nor the keyboard). The guitarist of that band would take my a cappella demos and create arrangements out of them that sounded rather ‘80s heavy metal, and then we would perform them live together with the entire unit. For Halloween in 2014 I bought a Venetian mask (it only covers the top of one’s face, leaving part of the nose and the mouth exposed), and after that I began wearing it on stage whilst performing. When I’d first arrived in Fukuoka in 2011, I had written a short story called “City of Masks” (it was inspired by all of the “masks” — the same type as worn during the pandemic — I’d seen people wearing), and so I reread it and created lyrics and a melody for the song, which thereafter the guitarist arranged and we played live for about a year together. This version is a variation of the one I arranged and recorded solo in 2018, which I then revisited in Tokyo during the 2020 pandemic. There is also a music video I made for it around the same time, but it’s only on Vimeo now. The theme of the video is of course the pandemic…and masks.
Track 12: Deceptive Glass
"City of Masks" was a song I did with my first band; in contrast, this song I originally performed with my second band, the one I had myself formed. This solo version, which came much later, does away with the original guitar part I’d written and focuses on heavy electronica sounds. I believe it was arranged and recorded in around 2018. I rediscovered it (on my old computer’s HD) rather recently, and thought, “Ah, this is kinda cool!” and so I added it to this collection.
Track 13: The Broken Chair
This song was originally written for what I thought would be my first-ever all-instrumental LP “Empathy,” and in fact the original arrangement had no vocals but, instead, included a sample from Hiroshi Teshigahara’s film “Woman in the Dunes,” based on the novel by Kobo Abe. I had thought, at the time, that if I used the sample there might be some trouble with copyright, so, when my voice started coming back after I’d lost it, I added vocals and this version was born. What do you think the “broken chair” might suggest? It’s really open to the listener to decide.
Track 14: Property for Sale
This is a noisy, angry instrumental. The thing that had prompted my writing it means absolutely nothing to me now, but I thought it was a cool-sounding track, so I put it here.
Track 15: The Lights Went Out
Finally, we come to the very last song on the 30 track compilation! You could say that the collection ends in total darkness, with the lights going out. Also consider that last year’s 4-LP series, known collectively as “Tetralogy,” included themes such as “Hope” and “The Sun Is Coming,” in stark contrast to this. And then, again, my last set of LPs (and an EP), together forming “Six Symphonies for the End of the World” was more recently released. Unfortunately, this year, we have again returned to a world without light…
Whenever asked what my theme is in terms of my music, I always say “Light and Darkness” (or: Yin and Yang). Indeed, I am not lying.