Kyoto-based artist KASAI reinvigorates the timeless sounds of minyo on his latest album, J / P / N.
The genre of traditional Japanese folk music traces its origins back to the Heian period, evolving over generations, and KASAI fearlessly explores its latest potential by interplaying footwork and glitch with the evocative melodies of traditional Japanese sounds.
Building upon his previous work as Jap Kasai, KASAI delves deeper into his maximalist—and often goofy—electronic sound on J / P / N, centering on his vocal prowess and venturing into uncharted rhythmic territories. The album's ten tracks vacillate through a kaleidoscope of sounds, from hypnotic dirges to pulsating 4/4 club beats, weaving a rich sonic tapestry that mirrors the intricate interconnectedness of the natural world. But it's KASAI's distinct minyo vocals that add a touch of his idiosyncratic charm, and through this warped and otherworldly lens, footwork takes on a new dimension on J / P / N. As does minyo…
"Japanese folk songs were originally rooted in different regions of Japan," KASAI explains. "Minyo was spread by private networks of people. Minyo also travelled to other regions as goods were distributed through trade and other means. Cool voices, rhythms, breaks, and lyrics influenced other regions' songs."
"In this way, minyo influenced each other, changed its form, and was sung in many different places by many different people. I wanted to express the dynamic aspect of minyo before it was confined to the geography of a country."
While creating J/P/N, KASAI balanced his boundless creativity with the responsibilities of raising a child and tending to a farm—and playing gigs in a fish market. Watch KASAI perform oiyaasaaee in Sakai Fish Market.
The album is out this week on Chinabot, a UK-based label, platform and collective run by Sappy Vong dedicated to reshaping the conversation surrounding Asian music. Alongside the digital release, J / P / N will also be available on cassette, a format that resonates with KASAI's passion for the medium. Under his real name, Daisuke Iijima, KASAI runs hoge tapes, a cassette label that reflects his love for the format.
J / P / N is out May 31 on Chinabot. Purchase it here.