Tokyo Blog, Tokyo Story

The blog of Stephen David Smith, Tokyo, Japan 2018

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Ryoji Ikeda

I recently discovered a sound artist I really liked called Ryoji Ikeda, who is currently based in Paris but originally from Gifu, Japan. His work caught my eye when I was browsing YouTube as the aesthetic he uses is very glitch. His visualisations of sound are in fact the product of computer programs interpreting raw sound such as sine waves, noise and signals in order to created harsh static imagery and sublime monochromatic geometric patterns. When I saw it I remembered wondering if Squarepusher may have taken inspiration from this for his recent performances. Here is a video of Ryoji’s work:

Amazing, isn’t it? He has also released albums of his music on various record labels, but it’s not easy listening by any means!


Radio Tokyo Vol. 5 – Brooklands

After a longish break from making mixes, Radio Tokyo is back with this latest offering which is a montage of bleak and haunting musical soundscapes from the electronic music scenes of UK, Germany, and US. Moody enough for you? Here’s the playlist:

  1. I Made a Tree on the Wold – Telefon Tel Aviv
  2. Error 404 – Apparat
  3. You Are Here (Four Tet Remix) – Nathan Fake
  4. Harrowdown Hill – Thom Yorke
  5. No Release – Lindstrøm
  6. Lump – James Holden
  7. Rusty Nails – Moderat
  8. Mobula – Fairmont
  9. Cerulean – Simian Mobile Disco
  10. Street Halo – Burial
  11. Crackle Blues (Burial Remix) – Blackdown
  12. No Special Bed – Prefuse 73
  13. Arcadia – Apparat
  14. Mdrmx – Brothomstates
  15. Gold – Darkstar
  16. Ode to Bear – Mount Kimbie
  17. Wilhelms Scream – James Blake
  18. Missing – The XX
  19. Oaklands – Chris Clark
  20. Soft Trees Break The Fall – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

View all podcasts in the Radio Tokyo series and download this episode here.


Numark Mixtrack Pro

Long time no see! An incredibly chaotic summer this year, but good news on the podcasting front is that I picked up a mix controller to use alongside the mixing software on my Mac. I tried a Vestax Spin when I was back in London about 6 weeks ago, but upon getting back to Tokyo decided to go with this baby instead. It’s taken care of the cue / monitor issues that come with using mixing software with a normal soundcard (i.e. only having one channel and therefore no way to hear the track you’re trying to mix) and not only that, it’s actually possible to scratch on it which I didn’t expect. So, I made a video and put it on YouTube. I’ve got plans for some podcasts which I intend to create sometime very soon.


Cesare vs. Disorder & Onirik – Il Viaggio

A Brazilian visual artist based in Berlin called Fernanda contacted me by email the other day and pointed to her recent project for an independent record label. What you see above is a music video she made for an upcoming release on Serialism Records featuring a montage of video shot in Tokyo in January this year. I really liked it and wanted to share it with you. Thanks to Fernanda Mattos for the info.


Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Here’s the music video for a new Japanese artist I recently discovered. Someone recommended this one to me and after checking it out on YouTube I noticed that it seemed to have gone viral with a lot of people in the west sharing it because of it’s crazy visuals and its Harajuku Kawaisa / Decora elements. The song is produced by Yasutaka Nakata who also does Perfume’s stuff.


SonarSound Tokyo 2012’s Superb Lineup

This year’s SonarSound Tokyo 2012 sports the most unmissable lineup ever: Squarepusher, Clark, Global Communication, The Cinematic Orchestra, Vincent Gallo, Mount Kimbie, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke and way more(!). It takes place on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of April and a one day ticket will set you back ¥7,750 in advance and ¥8,500 on the day and the two day ticket costs ¥14,500. Regardless of cost, this is surely a must-go-to event for any electronic music fan. I’ll certainly be there as it’s my birthday on the 24th! I’ll be here both days, and then off to relax in the hot springs of Izu the following day! It’s going to be a great weekend – let me know if you’re going.


Radio Tokyo Volume 4 – Commercial Breaks

This episode of Radio Tokyo showcases some of the more leftfield Japanese artists past and present that I had in my collection. As ever, I don't present or narrate, but at the same time it's not just a straightforward mix. There's a real variety of genres, styles and BPM here, so I wove them together with some samples taken from retro Japanese TV commercials, and that's where the name and the theme of this episode comes from. Here's the playlist, enjoy:


  1. I, Me, My, Mine - Polysics
  2. A11 A10ne - Buffalo Daughter
  3. LSD - Trippple Nippples
  4. Rocket - Polysics
  5. 4 Little Joeys Remix - Kiiiiii!
  6. I Wanna Be Sedated - Shonen Knife
  7. Twiggy Twiggy - Pizzicato Five
  8. Mogu Mogu - Chinza Dopeness
  9. Spam Keikoku - Shonen Knife
  10. Pajama Party Pop - Lullatone
  11. Sugar Water - Cibo Matto
  12. The Audrey Hepburn Complex (Billy Wilder Mix) - Pizzicato Five

View all podcasts in the Radio Tokyo series and download this episode here.


Washed Out at Liquid Room, Ebisu – Tonight

Just wanted to quickly mention for chillwave and dreampop lovers out there, that Washed Out will be playing at Liquid Room in Ebisu tonight. It’s ¥5,500 in advance, but it looks like tickets on the door will be the same price. i was really thinking about going down myself, but I really am too busy to go. If you do have time, I heartily recommend you go and catch this – starts at 7:30. Full details can be found on Liquid Room’s page for the event.


The Fox Is Black Desktop Wallpaper Project

Personally, I don’t like to keep the same wallpaper on my desktop for more than a week, tops – so I was lucky to find this excellent collection of wallpapers by various creatives so I didn’t have to! I strongly recommend you check this out, but be careful as I spent far too long going through the entire category of posts looking at these. If you’ve found a desktop you like you should also check the mixtape section as it’s also really great. All you need to get on: a fresh desktop and an array of tunes to work to.


Radio Tokyo Volume 3 – Late Summer

Radio Tokyo Volume 3 - Late Summer

Summer is still very much with us here in Tokyo – it’s still hot and humid and free time is usually spent sitting in the park listening to music. You can however feel that Autumn might be on its way, so here is a new episode of Radio Tokyo to suit. I don’t really prefer any particular genre when it comes to music, but a phenomenon that pretty much sums up my summer of 2011 is the continued rise of throwback sub genres of U.S. indie synthpop, namely Glo-Fi and Chill Wave, Dream Pop amongst others. It seems like the rehash of the 80’s sound is set to continue and a few proponents of this mainly American sound seem to be channeling The Beach Boys (in a good way). This ties in pretty well with my summer because I’ve been getting more nostalgic in my hobbies and the way I dress and we’ve been playing a lot of old school video games in this ¥50 arcade in Shibuya. So without any further ado, click to listen below and check the playlist:


  1. Despicable Dogs – Small Black
  2. Slow Peels – Com Truise
  3. Kim & Jessie – M83
  4. Collapsing At Your Doorstep – Air France
  5. Stay Close – Delorean
  6. Burn Bridges – Dom
  7. Please Stay – Summer Heart
  8. Swimming Field – Memory Tapes
  9. You – Gold Panda
  10. David – The Radio Dept.
  11. Midnight City – M83

View all podcasts in the Radio Tokyo series and download this episode here.


Radio Tokyo Volume 2 – Ode To Concrete

Radio Tokyo Volume 2 - Ode To Concrete

For the second in the Radio Tokyo series, we will be exploring soundscapes befitting the metropolis. Post-dubstep IDM with plenty of dark undertones and melancholic aural atmospheres in this decidedly city-centric episode ode to vacant plots, government housing projects and urban decay. Showcasing in Volume 2 will be mostly artists from Warp and Hyperdub imprints. Here’s the playlist:

  1. Forgive – Burial
  2. Digital Fauna – Zomby
  3. Out In The Streets – Africa Hitech
  4. Foil – Autechre
  5. Flat Of The Blade – Massive Attack
  6. Klavierwerke – James Blake
  7. 124 – Photek
  8. Midnight Request Line – Skream
  9. Spicy Sammich – Flying Lotus
  10. Gangslap – Africa Hitech

View all podcasts in the Radio Tokyo series and download this episode here.



Hello. Got some Polysics for you today. Enjoy.


Radio Tokyo Volume 1 – Airspace

Radio Tokyo Volume 1 - Airspace

A little foray into the art of Podcasting here. The first in a series of radio broadcasts / mixes. This first one is something of an experiment. Haven’t gotten used to the software yet, so not as well made as I’d like, but still; this first episode takes an aeronautical theme, inspired by the airliners that pass over my house on their way to the newly opened international runway at Tokyo Haneda Airport.


  1. Blue Calx – Aphex Twin
  2. Wing Body Wing – Four Tet
  3. Amo Bishop Roden – Boards of Canada
  4. Hilarious Movie of the 90’s – Four Tet
  5. Genshi – Susumu Yokota
  6. Circling – Four Tet
  7. Cocoon – Bjork
  8. Goodbye – Kevin Shields
  9. There is a Number of Small Things – Mum
  10. Pink Stones – Memory Tapes
  11. Z Twig – Aphex Twin
  12. Auto Pilot – Lusine icl

View all podcasts in the Radio Tokyo series and download this episode here.


Peter, Bjorn & John Feat. Yoyogi Rockabillies

This great music video for the song Nothing to Worry About by Peter, Bjorn & John features the Tokyo Rockabilly Club. People will probably know them as the guys who rock out in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. Check it out – the guy’s got a motorcycle in his apartment!


Four Tet – Japan Tour 2010

Four Tet - Japan Tour 2010

This is a late notification that Four Tet will be playing at Club Eleven in Tokyo this Friday 3rd Dec. This is a big deal in itself because Four Tet is one of my favourite artists, but on top of that, Club Eleven is the newly reopened, legendary Club Yellow. Club Yellow closed down a while back but has recently reopened with some nice new touches inside. I’ve never been there but everyone I speak to says it was their favourite club in Tokyo. Surely this is a must-go-to event? Unfortunately for me, I have to get up early Saturday morning and I have the JLPT N3 language test on Sunday, so it’s actually a no-go, but please get yourself there if you’re in town. Failing that, get hold of the new album, There’s Love in You.