I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Denki Groove -- Ace (A)

I bought this album back in 1997 on the strength of their first single, "Shangri-La"; plus, the only Japanese techno albums I'd had were by Yellow Magic Orchestra, so I was interested in listening to how the techno scene was in the late 90s as opposed to the late 70s-early 80s.

Way back in the mid-70s, there was a disco hit that I'd liked hearing (although it would be another 5 years before I really got into music of any sort) since it was also the theme for the local CBC 6 o'clock news telecast: "Love's Theme" by Love Unlimited. Although the song sampled by Takkyu Ishino(石野卓球)for "Shangri-La"wasn't that song, it sounded similar enough to get my attention. Actually it was Argentine composer Bebu Silvetti's "Spring Rain", and that opening string flourish sounds very much like how "Love's Theme"started.

As for the single itself, "Shangri-La" was released in March 1997 as the first single from "Ace" and Denki Groove's 8th single overall. It peaked at No. 10 on Oricon and is, to date, their most successful single; overall, it finished the year as the 73rd-ranked song. Compared to the other entries on the album, it's the most mainstream-sounding. Of course, Ishino and Pierre Taki's(ピエール瀧)collective tongues were firmly in cheek as they did the video.

"Ace" was Denki Groove's 7th album which peaked at No. 3 on Oricon. Released in May 1997, all of the tracks can be described in the same way that the character in "Pocket Cowboy" is described: cool and nihilistic. "Pocket Cowboy"was the 2nd single to be released from the album, and it was also the ending theme for an anime (TBS' "Coji-Coji") created by the woman behind the hit manga and anime, "Chibi Maruko-chan", Momoko Sakura(さくらももこ). Ishino, and a battery of other voices, create a whimsical vocal quilt. The bottom video is a parody of the ending of "Coji-Coji" itself; very cute dancing.

"Volcanic Drumbeats" was never released as a single, but it's my other favourite track on "Ace". If you can imagine a psychotically heartfelt ode to the art of drumming against a major brawl amongst The Transformers, this would be the result. Pierre and Takkyu go absolutely nutso as they talk about colliding with yokozuna-class bulldozers, 2-metre long nunchakus as drumsticks and killing people with the crash of the cymbals. Not to be listened to under the influence (half-joking).

And before I forget, this is Bebu Silvetti's original "Spring Rain" from 1976. Except for one track, Ishino and Taki were responsible for writing and composition, but they were very generous in including Silvetti in the credits for "helping"compose "Shangri-La".

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