Exploring Shikoku & Seeing Carpainter at Outer Kochi

I never would have dreamed that there was a club scene in the countryside of Japan, but through my travels I have learned that there is an underground scene basically everywhere–you just have to find it!  This time I went on a pilgrimage to Shikoku for the purpose of seeing Carpainter and Onjuicy perform at a venue called Outer located in Kochi.  I was very surprised to meet some very kind friends and enjoy the sights and sounds of a unique part of the country that I had never been to before!

I flew to Kochi from Tokyo a day before the event started so I had enough time to explore the city by myself.  When the plane landed, all I could see was rice fields and I didn’t know exactly where I was, but I knew it was about to be lit.  With a short bus ride to the station, I found that most of Kochi’s attractions were accessible by foot or via a cheap bus ride.  I grabbed some wine from the convenience store, and began my sightseeing trek around the city!

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I first stopped at Kochi Castle, which was quite a lovely sight to see.  I’ve been to a lot of white castles in Japan, but I liked this one because it involved a lot of climbing to reach the top and you could walk all around the castle!  Often you can only access certain parts of castles in Japan, but this one you can fully explore to your heart’s content.

Nearby the castle is the Harimaya Bridge, which is a super tiny bridge located near souvenir shops and the Sunday Market which is fun to see.  I stayed in the Kochi Green Hotel right in this area which my friend helped me get a coupon for only 3000 yen per night.

On the way back I decided to check out the Hirome Market for some delicious sea urchin and egg-like sushi.  There was also a disco ball and a giant tower of fries to see, along with many stalls selling beer and other novelties:

This market was very fun to see because it was so lively.  At all times of the day, you can see people drinking here.  There’s a great selection of seafood, noodles, yakiniku, desserts, and sake!  I could tell that the people of Kochi take a lot of pride in this market, because not only is the food good, but it is also a place where a lot of people come together and pass time.

The final destination on my list before the club was Katsurahama Beach!  Overlooked by the historic shogun Sakamoto Ryoma, this beach had a garden and stunning scenery.  I wouldn’t say it was the most beautiful beach in Japan, but it is definitely worth seeing if you are in Shikoku.

After spending a few hours here, I took a bus back to my hotel and started pregaming for the club.  This event was very special because it was the first time that Carpainter and Onjuicy performed together in Kochi, and also the first time Carpainter had ever been a back-up DJ for an MC (original Tweet).

As a foreigner with blonde hair, I definitely stood out but that was okay because everyone was very welcoming to me here.  I said hello to my 2 friends from Tokyo and proceeded to get drinks at the bar while they got ready for their set.  The event organizer greeted me and personally thanked me for coming all the way here because it was quite a long trip from Tokyo.  I thanked him back for having such a great event, and proceeded to be given shots by some locals and also one of the performing DJs.

The environment of Outer is quite different from clubs in Tokyo because everyone there makes an effort to get to know one another, plus with an indoor and outdoor area it’s quite spacious for moving and dancing around.  It’s not to say you can’t find a venue like this in Tokyo, but often you will find that the city is overcrowded and full of people who just want to party without paying attention to the music.  The crowd here was all very respectful and I really appreciated the time I had here!

During their performance, PAM!!! was played in addition to one of Onjuicy’s unreleased songs:

It was overall extremely fun to be so up-close to the performers and share the thrill  with the countryside people of Kochi.  I am excited to see the next place I end up following my friend’s tour!

Carpainter – Orient Review: A Soothing Sensation of Techno for the Soul

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Very recently, Carpainter from Trekkie Trax (Tokyo’s beloved independent record label) released a new EP called “Orient” with roots stemming from Detroit Techno and UK Garage/Funk.  The EP contains two songs; the first titled “Orient” and the second titled “Mottled Pattern”.  Collectively they are composed with upbeat, inspiring melodies that are true to their influences, and are very reflective of Carpainter’s ability of an artist.

What I like most about these songs are they can be listened to in any setting–such as a club, a lounge, or even at home in your room.  While listening to this EP, I definitely feel a funky vibe that is overall upbeat and easy to dance too, but simultaneously, the intricate composition makes you feel reflective and contemplative of life.  It is music that is soothing for the soul, much like classic Detroit Techno:

Orient is a song with an intro that sounds similar to the songs that Carpainter produced on his Returning album, but quickly transforms into an extremely unique and funky melody full of energy.  The clashing techno sounds in the middle of the song make it very compelling to listen to, but the drums in the background make the song consistent.  It is evident he carefully chose the timing of the techno chords and electronic components of the song, and much like Detroit techno, this song possesses a lot of spirituality combined with technology.  What I find amazing is that not many people in Japan are familiar with Detroit techno, but this artist has a firm grasp on how to produce it.

In contrast, Mottled Pattern sounds like it had more of an acid techno and liquid house influence, but much like Orient, the percussion and synthetic beats make it a consistent song that is still very funky.  Much like a pattern that is “mottled” or unclear, the song is ambiguous in nature. It sounds like liquid techno at first, then has unexpected spaceship-like SFX in the middle which make it very peculiar.  However, this is Carpainter’s distinctive style, and what makes him stand out as an artist.  Overall, I like this song just as much as I like Orient because Carpainter put so much of himself into it, yet you can tell he had various techno influences as mentioned above.

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Though I have many positive things to say about this EP, my biggest criticism is it doesn’t actually reflect how much as he has grown as an artist.  In less than one year, Carpainter has done amazing things like open for Virtual Self in Tokyo, tour in Taiwan with the rest of Trekkie Trax, and also has performed at extremely reputable clubs in Tokyo while studying music and building a following of loyal fans.  I have witnessed him perform at techno, anime song, and house events as well as open for foreign performers that come to Japan, and in this single year of 2018 he has improved his abilities more than what this EP reflects.

One reason I love Carpainter as an artist is because he has played more genres than anyone else on his label, and has challenged himself to create music that is much different than what your normally hear from other Japanese artists.  However, if you don’t actively follow his club events and only listen to his music online, then you won’t know how much he’s grown as a producer since his last album (Returning, released in 2017).

Fortunately, Trekkie Trax has premiered more of Carpainter’s unreleased exclusive songs on their radio show, so hopefully Orient is part of a larger and more epic release.  Additionally, the reason of why he chose sunflowers as his cover art remains up to the listener to perceive (and will hopefully be elaborated on in a future interview)!

If you like artists like Lone, Ken Ishii, Disclosure, and various UK Garage artists, then I definitely recommend that you listen to it!

Support Carpainter’s Orient EP through Bandcamp here!