Julian Cope’s JAPROCKSAMPLER top 50 albums. Author: RamonesIstKrieg. Julian Cope’s top 50 “Japrock” albums, from his totally rad book. Julian Cope, eccentric and visionary rock musician, follows the runaway underground success of his book “Krautrocksampler” with “Japrocksampler”, a cult. Michel Faber tunes in to Julian Cope’s Japrocksampler.
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In the introduction, the word ‘study’ crops up repeatedly, including the assertion that a ‘detailed study of this book will have you rethinking your attitudes to music, art, time Japrocksampler aims to do the same thing for Japan, although the context could hardly be more diff erent. Shedding the ‘proper historian, me’ persona, his true voice breaks loose with the closing section, his all-time Top 50 Japrock LPs. Especially early on, there’s a self-conscious air of scholarship. Alan Cummings, the most knowledgeable and bilingual British scholar of Japanese alternative music, writes articles for the Wire but has not yet written a stand-alone text.
Context-setting is just dandy, but was it really necessary to start with the arrival of US vessels on Japanese shores, thereby ending centuries of cultural isolationism? Julian Copeself-styled “visionary rock musician and musicologist, hip archaeologist and one-time frontman of the Teardrop Explodes”, is one of Britain’s more colourful fi gures. What he’s looking for is “the kind of unsignposted music with neither peaks nor troughs that still sounds relevant today”, ie music that resembles Krautrock.
Japrocksampler – Wikipedia
Central to Cope’s thesis is the notion that mind-altering music can only be made by people who ingest mind-altering drugs, and that Japan’s notoriously anti-drug culture therefore impeded the artistic development of its musical pioneers. There’s also a brief addendum on must-to-avoid clunkers, Cope astutely noting how collectors gull themselves to feel better about having shelled out so much dough, starting an inflationary cycle whereby ‘deadly rare foreign albums often become classed as classics merely because no one outside an elite few has even heard [them]’.
He raves about the ‘fascinating and wildly eventful’ multi-generic pastiches created by theatre score composer JA Caesar mostly only released as cassettes sold at stalls in the theatresand the bizarre jazz-rock tangents spawned out of the Japanese cast of Hair Shedding the ‘proper historian, me’ persona, his true voice breaks loose with the closing section, his all-time Top 50 Japrock LPs.
It quickly became a cult item and was widely credited for kick-starting the Nineties boom of interest in Krautrock something of an over-estimation, given that groups like Stereolab had long been citing Neu! Now here comes Copey with a sort-of-sequel, this time exploring and exalting the even more esoteric world of Japanese freak rock.
His lack of affinity with folk or the subtler forms of jazz causes him to ignore or sideline many of Japan’s most distinctive artists. Other books on the subject are not on off er. Cope himself is not a Japanese speaker, but his omnivorous LPcollecting and his friendship with some of Japan’s current rockers make him a credible candidate to write this book.
By contrast, the music discussed in Japrocksampler has made almost no impact outside Japan, partly owing to the barrier of an undecodably alien writing system. Japrocksampler is by turns hilarious, wearisome, fascinating and obtuse. A young Yoko Ono attempts suicide in frustration at being upstaged by her first husband Toshi.
There are moments in Japrocksampler that will make more sceptical readers wonder if that very syndrome isn’t going on in Cope’s own text. Passionate, pithy, and portable, Krautrocksampler was wittily styled as a pocket-sized field guide along the lines of the Observer Book of Birds. The oligarchical structure of the Japanese music business also meant japroxksampler records – and the groups who played on them – were often put together by company bosses and producers.
Was Cope maybe piqued into overcompensation by that smatter of niggardly experts who complained that Krautrocksampler wasn’t comprehensive copd authoritative enough? Although it contained lots of little-known information, the earlier book didn’t belabour the julina story but focused on Cope’s rabid enthusiasm for the music.
Inhe published Krautrocksampler, an evangelistic overview of Germany’s greatest gift to the modern world, that immensely charming genre of 70s music known as Krautrock.
Julian Cope presents JAPROCKSAMPLER.COM
Krautrocksampler sought to rekindle an interest in music that was once widely appreciated in Britain but which had juliah into neglect due maprocksampler changing fashions and fickle journalism. The incident where sword-waving members of Japan’s Red Army Faction including the bass player of the Radical Music Black Gypsy Band hijack a plane “to Cuba”, eventually landing to a heroes’ welcome in North Korea, is retold as a wacky caper, but the complex griefs and tensions that led to such gestures cry out for deeper analysis.
All human life is here, somewhat mangled in translation. Or did he just develop a taste for research while working on his highly-regarded ‘stone circle’ histories The Modern Antiquarian and The Megalithic European? As a music commentator, Cope is passionately opinionated, which is both his strength and his weakness.
Strangely, though, Cope doesn’t make much of the parallels between Krautrock and Japrock: As a work of scholarship, Japrocksampler is slapdash and error-strewn. All have become prized by Western record collector fiends this past decade, especially now the Kraut Kosmiche seam has been mined beyond exhaustion.
If Cope’s exaltation of Les Rallizes Denudes seems like mystique-building covering up japrocisampler underachievement he hails the hermetic, retired Mizutani as ‘this great nihilistic spirit, this sonic executioner’elsewhere his evocations of all japrocmsampler authentically inauthentic music are enticing and convincing.
Either way, a certain windy ponderousness of phrase and tone creeps into the prose now and then, suggestive less of japrockeampler hair and loon pants than of donnish tweed and leather-patched elbows. With a mixture of aff ection and condescension, Cope relates the attempts of Japanese wannabe “refuseniks” or even “uberrefuseniks” to ape the lifestyles of their American and British idols in a society where strict codes of honour still ruled and where the hippie musical Hair was closed down by the authorities.
Behind its showbiz gossip and shamanistic mythmaking, we catch glimpses of another Japan, a Japan that eludes understanding. In our megastore copd, the familiar is endlessly recycled, while blinkered journalists reshuffle the same Top lists ad nauseam.
This consumer advice is the fruit of much labour and expense, Cope reveals, the sifting process being ‘an arduously hit-and-miss affair