Music I heard at Metamorphose 08

Update: added some linky goodness to some of the pics H took that night.

Last weekend was メタモ 08, aka the Metamorphose Music Festival in Shizuoka: a comparatively low-key, 3-stages-1-night, affair with affordable ticket price (a fourth of Fuji Rock’s), featuring mostly electronic and/or non-mainstream acts.

Conditions this year were just short of apocalyptic, thanks to the nastiest weather of the entire Summer: rainy and cold… Fortunately, the real downpour held off until Sunday morning and we managed with only a couple light drizzle episodes through the night.

Anyway, I’ll spare you our own antiques and just post a couple thoughts on the different acts we got to hear:

1. Tony Allen opened the night with some kickass afrobeat on the main stage. He did quite alright, bringing up the generally dampen mood into party mode. Having spent countless hours of my youth looping Africa 70 tracks to exhaustion, this was probably one of my most feverishly awaited act of the night, and the only disappointment was that it didn’t have a better timeslot.

2. Since I’d already heard Jazztronic and DJ Krush a few times before, I used the chance to take a little rest at our “camp” and stock up some [mostly natural] energy for the night. Whatever I caught of Album Leaf in the distance (and later up close) provided a satisfyingly eery ambiant background for a relaxing time.

3. Fully rested and after walking around a bit, we came back to the main stage for Boom Boom Satellites, which was really the nice surprise of the evening: knowing nothing of them save for a couple tracks and videos H. showed me, I was expecting some slightly boring typical J-pop with some electro-rock accents… But apparently (and also according to H.), their style has evolved a great deal over the years and they played something much closer to full-on electronic music with rock instruments. Both the resulting hypnotically long tracks and the super-upbeat crowd made it one of the highlight of the night.

4. Theo Parrish was another act I was really looking forward to, seeing how his two last parties rocked my Summers
And the disappointment was commensurate: his usual awesome blend of beats was made absolutely unbearable by some of the worst sound quality I have ever heard in my life (and I have heard a lot, trust me). Not only were the highs and mediums ear-piercingly loud, to the point of physical pain (we had to walk one full hill over before we could stand it), but they were also so distorted as to make the whole thing absolutely impossible to listen to.
I remember one of the first piece of advice I was ever given when I started pushing records in clubs, was to always take a minute off and walk around the place to see how the music sounds from the other side of the turntables (usually heaps less nice than what you hear from your spot). Of course, when you play some huge outdoor venue like that, you don’t need to worry about it: that’s what the sound guy is for. Except the sound guy that night was obviously sleeping. or deaf. or both.
Either way: after toughing it out for 20 minutes, we gave up in rage and went back to the other stages.

5. Back at the steamy indoor stage, we caught the end of a nice set by Fumiya Tanaka (seen a month ago at Womb) and then Josh Wink: pope of 90s acid house and producer of one of the most infectious 303 track ever made… A solid and largely danceable set, albeit ostensibly geared at people in a much less sober state than I was (yea, no higher state of consciousness for me that night): could have used a teensy bit more melody and texture here and there to complement the raw pumping beats.
Also, I realise whining about this puts me into the annoying clueless fanboy category, but I was really hoping to hear some version of his signature track: I know he might have got sick of people expecting it every single time for the past 15 years, but there really aren’t many occasions to hear it in a live club these days.

6. Galaxy 2 Galaxy was another nice surprise (only today did I realise I had heard them before: many years ago at DNA lounge in SF): live instrumental, jazzy, funky house with some seriously good vibes… Would have probably been the high note of the trip with an uplifting warm sunrise instead of that gloomy morning weather drowned in drizzle and gray skies. Still enjoyable nonetheless.
Also they played the best dance track of all time, so there’s no way to go wrong with that.

7. I honestly felt bad for Cobblestone Jazz: they played some nice groovy stuff, but by then rain had started falling for real and we were all rather content sitting under the roof structure, huddled together in our makeshift camp, snacking on curry and planning a strategic exit.

Apparently, we left none too early, since, just a couple hours later, torrential rains forced all trains out of Shuzenji to a complete stop until Monday.

Overall, a great night and some awesome music: can’t wait to do it again next year, on a dry and warm Summer weekend.