Transport Back to Electroman Vol. 3 - By Michele Tanabe
It’s hard to imagine that tucked away in a small cozy corner of Shinjuku’s Kagurazaka, a budding group of music enthusiasts and musicians has been making waves in Tokyo’s underground electronic music scene. Kagurazaka, affectionately coined as Shinjuku’s French Quarter, is renowned for its decadent dining, melt-in-your-mouth croissants, and lively izakaya's. However, even the most unsuspecting places have a knack for surprising the most avid music enthusiasts.
Now imagine being instantly transported to a clear day in May, when Japan’s dreaded rainy season isn’t yet on your mind. Your feet pad the pristine sidewalk that caresses Kagurazaka’s bustling shops. A sudden turn reveals a European-style staircase descending into the softly lit Kuragane. Just stepping foot into the intimate venue makes you feel like you’re part of an exclusive club, privy to a hidden secret. You’re greeted by people you know and people you’ve yet to meet, faces of familiarity and warmth buzz past you as you make your way through the heavy door that leads you into the concert hall. Electroman Vol. 3 is already underway and the lively group Kitka is center stage.
This rhythmic pair, native to Sweden, consisting of Frida on vocals and Fredrik on bass, is playful and charismatic on stage. Their performance begins with Distance For You, setting the tone with electronic sparks encircling lead singer Frida’s enchanting voice. Frida possesses memorable vocals, the type you could conjure up on the fly, and it all makes sense when you find out that she’s been singing practically all her life. Fredrik brings in a layer of punchy bass that carries the group’s overall sound to something that perfectly balances darkwave, pop, trance, and light electro. The performance comes to a close and somehow someone in the audience has a hold of Fredrik’s bass guitar. You can’t help but wonder how you’ve gone this long without Kitka, but now you have them in your back pocket, ready at any moment for an at-home jam session.
Time flows on, a drink is in your hand and the condensation around the glass starts to drip down onto your wrist, your head is swaying and crystal water drops are racing for the edge of the glass. You look up and find Demsky and The Nerrd fully immersed in their set. Ambient downtempo pulses surround around you as your eyes become transfixed on the visuals flowing like fluid behind the two immersed in their art. Another icy droplet pulls you into a brief trance, Demsky and the Nerrd can’t help but carry you into a deep primordial state. The music acts as soft waves pulling willing participants out into the depths of the sea. This set is more of a full-body experience rather than just a show. The music picks up the tempo and you’re dancing harder. The Nerrd’s visuals fly across the screen, one moment you see a deep space adventure, and in another moment a donut is bouncing off the screen. Demsky and The Nerrd’s combined efforts push you into the relaxing mind state of going on a trip without actually having to go anywhere or do anything at all.
The set is over and what’s left is a chattering murmur of warmth that wraps around you comfortably like your childhood blanket. You take a breath and notice that slipping past you is none other than Emergency Oxygen. He takes his place before a cheering crowd, adorned with his trademark neon glowing glasses and hat. The set bumps past ultimate singles such as Infinity, Move On, and Expansion Activée. Each song serves as an electric pulse propelling you into an imaginative world crafted by intricate rhythm and tempo. The static of surreal synth and sonic soundscapes feels as if it has morphed into a living organism hovering over the massive group of dancing bodies. You lift an arm into the air as the bass drops and you’re lifted for a brief moment into another realm. Emergency Oxygen acts as your guide moving you from one immersive melodic landscape to another until all at once the set has ended.
The night is winding down but the energy you feel inside is sparking and flickering like a newly lit flame. You’re compelled to continue swinging your body to the tempo as DJ Luke Hobbs emerges from the smoky backdrop gifting the masses with one final set. If you were to visually capture this organic sound on canvas, you’d stand for a moment upon the piece and claim it as avant-garde. Hobbs has an immaculate way of capturing music at its very core, and the result is almost an animalistic blend of big disco, rock, and accidental tribal. The urge to dance is transfixing, and you surrender yourself. Suddenly a whirl of kaleidoscope colors takes hold of you, sweeping you back home. With a hand pressed against your chest, the echoes of phantom music are still synchronized with your heartbeat. In that fleeting moment, you wonder when you will once again be transported back into the captivating realm of Electroman.