The Sounds of Shibuya-Kei

With the changing seasons and my re-emergence into the world post-COVID-19, I have found myself drawn to an entirely new genre of music, Shibuya-Kei. Shibuya-kei is a style of pop music that emerged in the Shibuya district of Tokyo in the late 90s. It was heavily influenced by 1960s pop music, American hip-hop, French Yé-yé and so much more. It is characterized by its electronic and jazzy, yet nostalgic sound.

Here are six of my all time favorite Shibuya-kei tracks:

painty pots” by 800 cherries – Romantico (1999)
“Romantico” by 800 cherries is a Shibuya-kei essential. The album is chock-full of sweet sounding hits with my all time favorite being “painty pots.” The lyrics are simple at first glance but upon closer inspection, they are about falling in love. Even on my toughest day, this track never fails to turn my mood around.

Afterglow” by Pine am – Pull the Rabbit Ears (2005)
While this album was released a few years after Shibyua-kei’s peak, “Pull the Rabbit Ears” fits into the genre through and through. “Afterglow” is another sweet sounding track; however unlike 800s cherries “painty pots” its lyrics are Japanese. Overall the track, is airy, light and something I would categorize as a “mood booster.”

Star Fruits Surf Rider” by Cornelius – Fantasma (1998)
Cornelius is one of the cornerstone artists in the Shibuya-kei music scene. His tracks vary across genres and never fail to keep the listener hooked. “Star Fruits Surf Rider” is no exception. From the get-go, this track grabs the listener’s attention and takes them on an electronic journey.

Moonchild” by Cibo Matto – Stereotype A (1999)
Cibo Matto is another group that ruled the Shibuya-kei music scene in the 90s. “Moonchild,” one of their more popular tracks, is one of my absolute favorites. It is jazzy, dreamy and simply a masterpiece.

Like “Moonchild,” “LUV CONNECTION” falls into the more jazzy sub-category of Shibuya-kei. The track is upbeat and funky; however, it is contrasted with a sultry-sounding woman’s voice. This juxtaposition creates a truly delicious-sounding number.

come again” by m-flo – EXPO EXPO (2001)
I almost always follow “LUV CONNECTION” with “come again” by m-flo. Overall, the two tracks have a similar sound; however, “come again” has a much stronger hip-hop influence. Like “LUV CONNECTION,” it is funky and upbeat, but the track breaks ever so often for a rap cameo.

Concert Review

Zoom Rave 101

Ah yes…an internet rave…the seventh circle of pandemic “hell.”

Upon first glance, a Zoom call and a rave may sound like they are on opposite ends of the human interaction scale. However, after attending my first Zoom rave, I can assure you they are far more similar than not.

Last Friday and Saturday, I attended two back to back Zoom raves organized by Bien Agiter, a nightclub based in Vancouver, Canada. Embarrassingly, these events came to my attention because of my TikTok For You Page which has gotten scarily accurate in the past few months. What initially drew me in was that rave-goers could win prizes for being the most “on-theme” with their attire (I really like winning prizes).

The first night, the theme was “Pink and Silky” but the second night, which I was most excited for, was “Hackers” themed. Friday night I was pretty nervous before I logged on, as I had absolutely no clue what to expect. I ended up signing on 30 minutes after 11pm, the expected start time. Unexpectedly, I was one of the first people on the call because, in typical rave fashion, there were “technical difficulties.”

Looking at all of the individuals present at the rave, I immediately felt at home. The organizers, DJs and ravers were all so welcoming and it was obvious that this was a safe space for all kinds of people. My screen looked like a kaleidoscope of beautiful people, neon lights, and moving backgrounds. To put it simply, it was beautiful.

In terms of the music, DJs from all around the world tuned into the event to perform 30-minute sets. The sets were primarily electronic and no different from what you would see at a pre-pandemic rave. Since the event was online it allowed a lot more freedom in terms of who was able to perform and attend. It also gave rave goers the opportunity to go all out with their attire, as there was far less external social pressure to present a certain way.

While Bien Agiter did an absolutely fabulous job putting this event together, there is something to be said for in-person raves. Yes, the music was great and the energy was high. However, there is a sense of camaraderie that comes with being around a group of people that simply can not be replicated via a computer screen.

All in all, internet raves truly are a blast. They are a great way to enjoy live DJs sets from the comfort of your own home and see DJs from around the world perform. Even with the current state of technology, I don’t see them overtaking in person raves anytime soon. However, I am not saying never.

Classic Album Review


ALBUM: COWBOY BEBOP (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)



RATING: 8/10

BEST TRACKS: “Tank!,” “Rain” and “Space Lion”

FCC: Clean

*Spoilers Ahead*

“Cowboy Bebop” by Shinichirō Watanabe is one of the most well-known and respected anime of all time. The story follows Spike Spiegel, an intergalactic bounty hunter, through various adventures alongside his teammates. While at first, the series seems lighthearted and action-packed, it quickly takes a darker tone. Throughout the anime, topics such as death, drug addiction, and struggle with gender identity are explored making “Cowboy Bebop” far more than just an action series.

While the plot is unlike any other, it is only a small part of what draws people to this series. Fans of “Cowboy Bebop” are often captivated by the complexities of the characters, its visually stunning art style and most importantly, the soundtrack.

The soundtrack was composed by Yoko Kanno and performed by SEATBELTS, a group Kanno created for the purpose of the series. Overall, it is jazzy, free and chaotic, creating the perfect atmosphere for the story of Spike Spiegel to unfold.

“Tank!” is hands down the most iconic song on the soundtrack as it is the opening track for the series. It is upbeat, jazzy and sets the tone for the fast-paced, action-packed plot of “Cowboy Bebop.” Its sound is almost reminiscent of early James Bond films.

“Rain” is a much more somber tune as it is played during Spike’s reunion with Vicious, a former comrade turned enemy. The vocals on this track are truly haunting which fit perfectly in with the eerie setting during this reunion.

“Space Lion” is my personal favorite track on the album. The way the song builds over its seven-minute runtime is truly captivating. When listening, it feels like the song is telling a story as it layers drums over saxophone over keyboard. It plays at the end of Episode 13: Jupiter Jazz, Part II which is one of the most complex and loved arcs in the series.

In a word, “COWBOY BEBOP (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” lives up to the hype. Even if you are not a fan of the anime, this album is absolutely worth the listen. All that’s left for me to say is “3, 2, 1… Let’s Jam!”


My Ideal Chillout Room Soundtrack

My recent obsession with ’90s rave culture has sent me down many musical rabbit holes, with my favorite being the sound of the chillout room. The chillout room started as a place for ravers to cool down from the high temperature of the rave itself. However, this room became far more than just a place for ravers to catch their breath. Ultimately, it became the birthplace of an entirely new style of electronic music. Here I have listed six of my all-time favorite chillout room tracks.

Dance PM” by Hiroshi Yoshimura – Music for Nine Postcards (2017)
This track has an upbeat and overall positive sound to it. It is sweet, soothing and absolutely perfect for anyone stepping out of the sensory overload that is a rave. To put it simply, this track is grounding.

2/1 – Remastered 2004” by Brian Eno – Ambient 1/Music for Airports (1978)
While Brian Eno was making music long before 90s raves, his ambient tracks are a chillout room essential. They do an excellent job of fluctuating to and from the foreground, putting the mind in an almost meditative state.

#6” by Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)
Aphex Twin was one of the artists essential in the creation of the chillout room and its sound. His second album which this track is on captures, the essence of the chillout room perfectly. For the most part, it is beat-less and trance-like. “#6”, my favorite on the album, is comprised of a repetitive vocaloid sound that takes the listener deeper into their Brian-Eno-induced meditative state.

Tommib” by Squarepusher – Go Plastic (2001)
Squarepusher, like Aphex Twin, was essential in the formation of the chillout room. This track is slightly more upbeat and engaging than the previous two in an attempt to pull the raver from their stupor.

La femme d’argent” by Air – Moon Safari (1998)
This track by Air serves to fully bring the listener back to their senses. It is jazzy yet still electronic in true chillout room fashion.

Breathe” by Telepopmusik – Genetic World (2001)
Lastly, “Breathe,” an electronic track with soothing vocals overtop serves to energize the listener before reentering the rave. While it is soothing, the beat is almost energetic enough to dance to making it the perfect transition song.

Classic Album Review

Album Review: D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L by Panchiko



LABEL: Independent

RATING: 10/10

BEST TRACKS: “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L,” “Laputa” and “Stabilisers For Big Boys”

FCC: Clean

Panchiko’s story began, or should I say resumed, during the Summer of 2016 when an anonymous 4chan user uploaded a couple of tracks from their demo “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L” to the internet. The tracks uploaded were heavily wracked with disc rot but that did not stop listeners from realizing their potential. As the number of listeners grew, so did their curiosity, which eventually lead to an internet-wide wild-goose chase for the demo’s creators.

It didn’t take long for Panchiko’s listeners to track down one of the original band members, Owain (he chooses to keep his last name private), via Facebook. According to an interview with the band published on Bandcamp, they were extremely surprised when they were contacted, as only 30 copies were ever pressed.

Since the band’s re-discovery, the four original members, Owain, Andy, Shaun and John, have come together to re-record “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L” which they did in 2020. In addition to this, the band published around twenty of their unreleased tracks.

The first track on the album shares its name with the album title: “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L.” It is Panchiko’s most listened to song on Spotify which it is absolutely deserving of. The track is lush, dreamy and slightly electronic, making it heavenly to listen to.

“Laputa,” my personal favorite song on the album, comes in as their second most listened to track. Its lyrics and overall sound were heavily inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s 1986 film “Castle in the Sky.” In the film, the main characters are on a mission to reach Laputa, a far-off forgotten land in the sky that can only be accessed by someone with native blood. The lyrics “Laputa was all we knew, and/ How we got there, how we flew up/ Heaven’s doors are miles away/ ‘Cause you’re stuck to the ground, you have to stay” describe the characters’ struggles throughout the film.

“Stabilisers For Big Boys” is probably their most abrasive track on the album. However, it’s still fits in with the overall shoegaze dreamscape that the album fabricates. It’s energetic and upbeat unlike the rest of the album, which tends to be more somber.

Overall, “D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L” by Panchiko is a perfect encapsulation of the late ’90s/early 2000s shoegaze sound and every second of it is worth the listen.