DJ Wada

DJ Wada

The veteran techno hound explores parallel worlds on his new One


Originally published on on October 2009

Courtesy of Sublime

Courtesy of Sublime

Clubland lost something essential when legendary Aoyama techno space Maniac Love closed in 2005. But it also gained something. After 12 years of fronting the club’s signature Cycle parties, DJ Wada finally had the time to launch a solo career.

The result of his efforts has been a series of solo albums, including last year’s Final Resolution and the recently released One. Cycle was key in bringing the experiments that Detroit techno producers were engaged in to a Japanese audience, and Wada as much as anyone can claim credit for launching the current Detroit techno-inspired minimal techno boom. With this background, it’s no surprise that One remains firmly grounded in techno.

The album relies on a substratum of pulsating, four-to-the-floor beats, above which float a kaleidoscope of spacey synth lines, atmospheric pads, chimes and shards of keyboard melodies. It’s music that enters your body in the solar plexus, and then rises up the spinal column to induce a state of hypnotic euphoria. One gets out of the gate with two particularly interesting outings: the opening title track features vocal cut-ups that have been stripped of meaning and reduced to their essential sounds, while “Alternate Life” is built from what appears to be samples of African tribal percussion and chanting.

Other parts of the album are more conventional, conjuring smoke-filled, late-night events at Maniac Love. But these different facets are all part of the singular identity that Wada is hinting at by titling the disc One. The tag, he explains in his release notes, comes from a New Age book of the same name by author Richard Bach. In the novel, a couple is on an airplane flying toward Los Angeles when there is a flash of light and they find themselves flying over an ocean that contains parallel worlds, in which they can observe what their lives might have been like had they followed different paths. Wada, a DJ who began in the discos of Roppongi in the ’80s and helped shape many eras of dance music, uses this as a metaphor for his own multifaceted career….

For those picking up Metropolis on the Friday publication day and looking for something different, consider a party hosted by… Lady Something Different. Otherwise known as DJ Kaori, she’s one of Japan’s most well-tested house DJs, picking up third place among a crowd of European turntablists competing in the 2007 Girly DJ Contest in Belgium. Lady Something Different has also spun from Sydney to Shanghai, and hosts a regular show on Shibuya FM.

The name of the event is Effectrick, a party that started soon after cozy Shibuya club Effect opened last summer in the heart of seamy Maruyama-cho. Resident DJs Kaori and the Hot House Tokyo boys spin a friendly mix of house, techno, jazz-funk and R&B in a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere that’s in marked contrast to the big-box clubs in the neighborhood.

Ignite. Techno: DJs Wada, Kazu, etc. Oct 24, from 10pm, ¥2,500 w/1d. Shibuya. Tel: 03-3464-8432. One is available on Sublime Records.