As per title, The Vanity Records 'Music, Tapes & Demos' box-set features a selection of releases culled from the catalogue of legendary Japanese cult DIY label Vanity Records, along with never before released demos recently discovered in Agi Yuzuru's archives. The box includes 11 CDs which offer the following contents:
CD-1 & CD-2 Various - Music 1 & 2
Music (or Musik) was a compilation originally released in 1981 as a double vinyl box. It is a selection of thirteen artists’ tracks that were chosen from over 100 cassette tape demos sent to Rock Magazine from all over Japan. It is also a monumental piece of work that documents early, experimental home recording music from Japan that emerged out of the advent of affordable synthesizers and multi-track recorders in the mid-1980s, stimulating the underground music scene of the era. With the exception Adode/Cathode (who released music from Daigoretsu and Pinakotheka), Tokyo led by Munehiro Narita (High Rise), Plazama Music (predecessor of B.C. Lemons), Arbeit (a group by designer Achim Duchow who created front cover artwork for Rock Magazine), Kiiro Radical and Invivo who separately released cassettes on Vanity, and Yuzuru Agi’s solo alias New York (that featured his field recordings from a visit in New York), all other artists are anonymous and their information is shrouded in mystery. Riddled with tape hiss noise and exceedingly low-fi sound quality, it is an accumulation of various ideas and DIY style from early ‘80s Japanese underground.
CD-3 Salaried Man Club - Gray Cross
Gray Cross features the signature sound of the trio Salaried Man Club who declare their white collar identity loudly with the industrial sound of an intellectual worker. They used to perform regularly at the club dee-Bee’s in Kyoto. They also appeared in Ylem’s compilation Awa (Foam).
CD-4 Kiiro Radical - Denki Noise Dance
Kiiro Radical (Yellow Radical) is a group formed by Masaaki Mochida from Yonago City in Tottori Prefecture. The subtle, calculated, meticulous minimal electric noise ecstasy that Mochida presented was critically acclaimed by Agi as “the pinnacle of Japanese electronic music now” at the time of release. He also has 5 pieces included in the compilation Musik.
CD-5 Densei Kwan - Pocket Planetaria
Densei Kwan is the group of Hidetsugu Saito from Fukushima. “Like a cause and effect interaction, the light bulb hidden in the boy’s trouser pocket, was actually a marble that was making some crashing sounds (pocket planetarium general statement)”. The original cassette release includes this Taruho Inagaki-esque quote attached to the quintessential electron (Densei Kwan) stirring up a miniature garden-like noise universe.
CD-6 Invivo - B.B.B.
This is a project produced by Masao Tachibana from Zushi city. The first 6 tracks are called In Vivo: Inside The Living Organism and the remaining 6 tracks are entitled In Vitro: Inside a Test Tube. It is a biological term penned document of a bio-mutant generational experiment of atmospheric sounds. Invivo had one track included in the Musik compilation.
CD-7 Wireless Sight - Endless Dark Dream
This is a project by Kunie Wakae who published the mini magazine called Musenongaku. Just playing piano, metronome, and radio noise, this artist created peaceful, post classical, spacious ambient sketches. He also did performances with visuals and dancers.
CD-8 Nishimura Alimoti - Shibou
Ami Nishimura’s ensemble’s album, Shibou. With a band consisting of guitar, bass, drums and voice, this unit plays quite a primitive sound that recalls early Amon Duul, Metabolist and such. It digs heavily into the alt psychedelic rock field.
CD-9 Densei Kwan - P' (unpublished)
An unpublished album from the cassette tapes owned by Aki Joe. The Densei Kwan's crashing style of Pocket Planetaria (CD-5) recurs in a more intense form with increased compositional power. An album that can't be thought of as a work made nearly 40 years ago.
CD-10 Various - Demos (unpublished)
Never heard before demos by Salaried Man Club, ONNYK, Den Sei Kwan and an except record from the HMN Session.
CD-11 System - Love Song
A band of five girls active in the Osaka scene for a short time who have developed aggressive songs that sound like a mix of Aunt Sally, Teenage Jesus and Malaria. The original tape was remastered by Yasushi Utsunomiya.