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American Damage

Bitter Lake Recordings Titles (C Memi)

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Image of Bitter Lake Recordings Titles (C Memi)
  • Image of Bitter Lake Recordings Titles (C Memi)
  • Image of Bitter Lake Recordings Titles (C Memi)

Diastereomer - Ignition Advancer

Diastereomer was a new wave two-piece formed in Tokyo by high school friends Katsuya Shoman and Yoshio Tanaka in 1986. An exemplar of 1980s Japanese darkwave, the band's lone release was the 1989 private press Mothersun 7", a Xymox-tinged single which saw the duo trade lead vocal duties between its songs “Mothersun” and “Place”. It was released on co-producer Sect Commune's Puppet Records and limited to a mere two hundred, hand-numbered copies. As one can imagine, neither the record nor Diastereomer themselves managed to reach much of an audience beyond the dozens of folks lucky enough to see them perform around Central Japan.

Now, remastered from the original reels, we here at Bitter Lake Recordings present to you the songs from the Mothersun 7", along with a selection of unreleased studio tracks from 1987-1991 that paint a more coherent picture of what made Diastereomer. Not only do they showcase a love for classic UK new wave and synth pop, but these unreleased tracks exhibit disparate sounds ranging from the gentle guitar ballad of "Within Me Calling" to the eponymous instrumental, which sounds as if it is scoring an intense cinematic moment set in an imagined, futuristic Neo-Tokyo.

The band eventually decided to cease playing as Diastereomer in 1991 and, while the duo continued on as The Twilight States until 1993, Shoman and Tanaka never managed to record new material. What we're left with is this essential collection of Japanese synth pop, perfectly encapsulating everything that makes the music of Diastereomer shine on thirty years later.

C. Memi + Neo Matisse - No Chocolate b/w Dream's Dream 7" (BLR-003)

Before Heavenly Peace, there was...Neo Matisse. While completely unknown in the West, C. Memi + Neo Matisse was well-regarded within the original Kansai punk scene. At its infancy, this scene boasted a wide variety of bands, ranging from The Stalin to noise pioneers Hijokaidan, both of which Chopsuei Memi and her band played with at the historic Answer '81 Part Two event at Kyoto University in April 1981. Neo Matisse even counted the likes of Michiro Endo of the Stalin and Yuzuru Agi of Rock Magazine amongst their fans, the latter of which had asked the band to release a record on his legendary Vanity Records. The band would ultimately reject Yuzuru's offer in favor of self-releasing their now-classic No Chocolate b/w Dream's Dream 7" in a small run of just 500 hand-numbered copies, all of which sold out rather quickly.

"No Chocolate" boasts the band's most definitive punk moment. Recorded live at a long-forgotten gig, this raucous declaration of anti-consumerism could be said to be the band’s most crazed Talking Heads impersonation. Memi alternates between bloodcurdling ululations and deadpan, disaffected talk-singing backed with stabbing pianos, NYC art rock guitar worship, Hidekazu Ishii's robotic bass lines, and Jun Iwasaki's tantrumming drums. Just as captivating is the flip side, the home-recorded "Dream's Dream," a beautiful song featuring Memi's hypnotic vocals dancing with Tohru Saitoh's oscillating, flanking synths.

This punk/new wave cult classic has continued to grow in stature with each passing year, both as a staple of the 1980s Japanese Underground and as a highly collectable record. We here at Bitter Lake Recordings are honored to present to you this crucial reissue of yet another piece of the C. Memi Story.

"Heavenly Peace is the lone solo release of C. Memi, previously the leader of Osaka new wavers Neo Matisse, who was described in the Hijokaidan Story by Toshiji Mikawa as the band "who gave us that famous 'No Chocolate' single,” which was released in 1980 and was a frenetic, punky new wave classic. After Neo Matisse disbanded on amicable terms in 1981, drummer Jun Iwasaki compelled Memi to record a solo album for his fledgling label, Fairy Records. Jun lent Memi his 8-track recorder and she set to work on what would become the only release for both Memi and Fairy.

This resulting 1983 private press 7" EP is a more stated affair than "No Chocolate," with Memi (playing every instrument) tackling a more minimal synth sound over a fairly disparate palette of songs ranging from droning, abstract post-punk pieces to (typical of this era in Japanese pop music) '80s emulation of '60s French Chanson pop. Most impressive of all, however, is the ethereal title track "Heavenly Peace (Unga No Suimon Akete)," a song so beautiful, its swathes of cleansing, oceanic synths and its luminous, firework-like synth pop perfection stands as one of our favorite songs of its kind from all of Japan.

In Japanese society, it has become tradition for women to give presents and chocolate to men on Valentine's Day. Just years before, Memi boldly declared "No chocolate!," but with Heavenly Peace, originally released on Valentine's Day in 1983, Memi is captured on the cover by photographer Kiyotoshi Takashima (with the cover art laid out by artist Yasuhito Nagahara) bearing a most thoughtful gift for you, the listener: this masterful record. The canal gates open once more and, on the 35th anniversary of the original release of Heavenly Peace, we lovingly welcome you to the enchantingly sentimental world of C. Memi.

The original release of Heavenly Peace stuffed eighteen minutes of music onto a 33rpm 7", so we have decided it would be prudent to reissue these majestic recordings as a 45rpm 12" for optimal sound quality to breathe new life into the recordings. Please enjoy as we have." - Bitter Lake Recordings