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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Halcali and "Pakuri"

"Something else that really needs commenting on is the design of the sleeve. I can't remember the last sleeve I saw that was so interesting and inventive"

Those were the sparkling comments I made on the Nagi Noda designed sleeve for Ongaku No Susume. Now I stumble across this article over at Neomarxisme, where he draws attention to the ongoing internet (the Japanese part of it anyway) debate regarding Noda's rather heavy borrowing of Aida Makoto's Aze Michi for Ongaku's sleeve. This is a rather large slap in the face for me, who had wholeheartedly enthused the freshness of the artwork, even when the album it was slapped on was anything but. This wholesale incorperation of another artists work into your own (while keeping quiet about it) is known in Japan as pakuri. Now then, the problem I have with this isn't that Noda borrowed (you might say "stole") ideas from Makoto. If Noda had made it clear that she was, say, a fan of Makoto's and that this was an intentional homage to promote his work then OK. In fact, taking this path would presumably have brought a lot of mainstream exposure to a fairly obscure artist. My gripe is that she did it without acknowledging Makoto at all, making a deliberate attempt to pass the work off as her own, whilst making a financial gain in the process.

Last year I was amazed to hear that Orange Range had ripped the twee heart out of Kylie Minogue's mid-80's hit Locomotion (which is itself a cover of a song Carol King and Gerry Goffin wrote in 1962 for their maid Little Eve) and stuck it smack into the middle of their own Kokorotion. This was not a sample, they had lifted huge portions of the melody and stuck it right in. An artless piece of thievery, no doubt, yet at the time I was hard pressed to find someone on the street who even knew that this Japanese hit was less than 40% original. The notion of pakuri seemed to go unquestioned by the Japanese media, and seemed everyday enough to barely raise a comment when I brought the J-pop Kylie King hybrid up with friends. Which leaves you to wonder, does the Estate of Kylie Minogue Ltd. even know about this? Or are Orange Range and Noda just sat somewhere with their fingers crossed?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Steppers vs. Senseis

A while ago I was griping about the too-dull-for-Halcali PV for Electric Sensei. Turns out it was an extended 'homage' to Rip Slyme's first PV, Stepper's Delight. Although I know the directors intention now, I still stand by my original sentiment. I'd certainly prefer it if they didn't use Halcali as an excuse to rub their own egos.
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Sunday, April 24, 2005

message to O.T.F. Re: New Halcali album

1. Exorcise the clutter. No-one wants to listen to Halcali for 6 minutes.

2. Exorcise the clutter. No-one wants 15 different producers writing 15 different songs making Halcali sound like 15 different bands.

3. Halcali is not some tool for hipster artists to use to spew forth their own rampant egos. If you let Yuki (or her ilk) write a song next time, make sure she expresses some modicum of respect for the band she's dealing with. If I wanted to listen to a song that sounded like Yuki (and I don't), i'd buy a Yuki album.

4. That guy from Rhymester, he was on the right track. Help the girls, don't swamp them.

5. You let the girls have some input on Wakusa Dance, and you know what, they didn't do half bad. Loosen the reins a bit more next time, let's see what happens.

6. Don't you realise how fickle this game is? OK, you released a stopgap filler remix album a while ago but people are already starting to forget. New single! Now!

6. Listen, i've put all my eggs into your big basket with this 'Even in the money driven world of modern pop commercialism there is still room for artistry and innovation, and Halcali is the proof' stick. Lots of bands have difficult second albums, that's why the term became such a cliche. It might go some way to making Halcali seem a bit more like a proper band even. Make a 'difficult third album' though, and people are going to stop caring. No-one wants that now, do they?

Thursday, April 21, 2005


My mysterious benefactor Brian was kind enough to send me scans of the December 2004 issue of Barfout! magazine. Its the new sense issue, and who better for the cover than The Best J-pop Band It's OK To Like?

He also scanned the interview, which i'll endeavor to scribble up.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Videos (2) Electric Sensei. Directed by Tsuyoshi Shimada

watch a clip

Was Shimada seriously content with releasing this bland, ho-hum rush job as a serious follow up to Tandem? Shot entirely against a white background, it struggles to replicate even a bit of what made that first promo great. Some table tennis, some obligatory cute animation, some jumping up and down. "Oh this will do, no-one watches these things anyway".

Update/slight retraction: Brian writes to inform me that this whole PV is infact a parody of Rip Slyme's first single/PV Stepper's Delight. The boiler suits, set etc. are apparently identical. Which does invalidate my original criticism somewhat, as it looks like this whole video was deliberate. Still though, referencing yourself like this (Halcali's producers O.T.F are two members of Rip Slyme) is still kind of suspect.

I scoured the internet and I was unable to find even one picture of the PV, let alone a clip. Any ideas? It'd be interesting comparing them.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Hanpanda Kingdom

Good heavens. For anyone who was curious about the disturbing half panda/half something creations that adorned Halcali's Baby Blue! single cover and promo, well then, shame on you. Take solace in the fact that you arn' t the only one who's taken an interest though, as there appears to be a whole Kingdom full of those body popping critters. You might find the Hello Kitty one particularly frightening. Also take a look at RADIO ARTE for some better stills of the video then I could manage (thanks to poncho).

The one created for the single, Halcalipan, got it's own little description inside the CD's sleeve.

Harupan and Yukapan are two girls. They love cutting everything in half. Apples in half! Bread in half! They're great friends, so they always split everything two ways. But there's still so much stuff that they want to cut in half...

Nagi Noda, thank you

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Halcali go digital

The Japanese/English site Shoot Up hosts digital camera photography taken by Japanese media and recording artists.

Luckily for us, Y and H got on board too, along with fellow Halcali cohorts VERBAL and O.T.F/Rip Slyme's Ryo-Z.

Theres 14 shots so far. So take a look, and turn your speakers up.