Wednesday, November 2, 2011

EGO 02 / Critical Species - Individual Music Ozaka 1985 cassette + zine

EGO was a short-lived magazine edited by Rock Magazine editor and Vanity Records owner Yuzuru Agi. He is to this day an uncompromising champion of cutting-edge underground music.
The 2nd issue of EGO is a magazine-sized box containing a tape and b/w zine. This is the only issue of EGO to include music. Lucky for us, the tape features over an hour(!) of top-notch weird-wave, all from Osaka. Stylistically, the material here is quite varied and the songs rather long. It's almost as if you took everything I've posted on this blog and condensed it down to one cassette...


soundhead said...

thanks a million


Holly said...

Thank you!

Carlx said...

Please, if it's not a big deal, I request you to upload this to another hosting service, since Megaupload was just closed.

Thanks for the effort, I think this blog is pure gold.

Anonymous said...

What carlx said.....
and thanks for an excellent blog

the saucer people said...

I am fascinated by your comment about Yuzuru Agi - namely "He is to this day an uncompromising champion of cutting-edge underground music." - I just assumed he vanished off the face of the earth as you see the Vanity Records releases bootlegged but never any news about what he is doing these days (of course as I do not speak Japanese, my perspective is somewhat limited).

I am really really interested in properly reissuing some of the Vanity releases, but with proper authorisation and approval with the money actually going to Yuzuru Agi and the artists (not that they would ever make that much but at least the only option would not be a bootlegged copy as the original prices as you know are way beyond most people's pockets - and personally, I think he released some of the most important music of the late 20th century).

Anyway, if you or anyone you know may have a way of getting in touch with him or at the very least find a lead to what he is doing these days so an email address could be discovered/

I know you are in hiatus mode - but if you can help or advise in anyway, it would be so so appreciated.

BTW - the Ozaka tape is just so out there - "if you took everything I've posted on this blog and condensed it down to one cassette..." = a perfect description!

c.patera said...

Hi there!
Yes, actually that limited perspective affects a lot of Japanese artists. Take Merzbow for instance... there is no equivalent for Merzbow in the west, yet few people realize that. We're talking about an artist who edited a magazine (a real, glossy magazine, not an underground zine), has written numerous books, etc. I don't know anyone in his field of his caliber, but in the west he's seen as just another prolific noise artist.

Agi acted in films in the 60s and released his own music. He turned to publishing in the 70s, founding ROCK MAGAZINE, one of Japan's earliest and most aware underground rock mags. By the 80s, he had started VANITY, and ROCK grew to become a really sizeable magazine. You have to see them to believe them... Huge magazines with multicolored paper, flexi inserts, textured covers. They are really insane... At some point it seems like it must have gotten too expensive, because ROCK condenses back down to a staplebound size and becomes very glossy and very focused on pop (earlier issues had been solely interested in the most underground industrial). Agi published 3 books of music/cultural criticism during this time. After ROCK ends, Agi publishes EGO, which lasts about 10 issues (late 80s). It's a return to the early 80's ROCK MAGAZINE style; amazing design. Agi has two more magazines in the 90s: infra and BIT. His focus here is mostly cutting edge electronic music, IDM, minimal techno, etc. He also, I think, had a record store sometime during this era. More recently he has a club called "Nu-Things" which plays the latest techno (he's way into Modern Love, Blackest Ever Black, etc) and gives lectures about music, shows films, etc. He recently had a gallery exhibition where he displayed a bunch of records from his collection. He also had a large feature in Idea Magazine, a well-known Japanese graphic design magazine. He has a new magazine that he just started called 0g... The first issue looks really crazy... all kinds of different paper sizes in a clear cover. Very futuristic. I think he's like in his 60's or 70's and still wears sunglasses 24/7 and DJs the latest industrial techno!!

I would know none of this if I weren't obsessed and good at googling in Japanese, so there is definitely a big perception issue between east and west.

I've been a bit bothered by the bootlegs... I understand people want to listen to Vanity stuff on physical formats, but the boots are so shoddy, especially when compared to the originals. OG copies are of course prohibitively expensive, though...
As far as official reissues go-- actually, I think they are coming, but I'm not sure. Years ago Agi posted designs of two CD boxsets which would include all the Vanity releases (minus the flexis). The designs were really amazing... The box designs weren't slaves to the original aesthetic. They looked totally contemporary... It was really inspiring to me, actually... Most of the reissues you see these days attempt to recapture some dead thing and reproduce it, when you can do so much more. Revitalize, reinterpret, reassess.

Anyways, I'm not sure if the boxsets are still forthcoming or what, but knowing that they were/are planned has kept me from contacting Agi regarding reissues. I also just feel (because I'm a total geek, haha) that no one else would really do them justice.