The techno oddballs arrive at Unit under a solid new label


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2010

Courtesy of Unit

The sporadic Undergram parties at Unit have garnered a reputation for bringing some of Europe’s more left-of-center techno acts to Tokyo. Last year, visiting artists included the driving, idiosyncratic Catz’n Dogz, and analog improv jazz-cum-techno unit Scott.

The latest event promises to continue in a similar vein, with Wareika set to take their turn behind the decks. Hailing from Hamburg, the trio do a lot more than fiddle with laptops and turntables—Jakob Seidensticker, Florian Schirmacher and Henrik Raabe utilize drum machines, electric guitars and live vocals to create a sound that, at any one time, melds techno with Balkan beats, Cossack horns and, judging from some enticing video clips and a cover of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm,” classic rock and rockabilly.

Evidently, Wareika have charmed some of Europe’s most respected dance labels, with releases on Connaisseur, Eskimo and Perlon, while leading percussive creator Ricardo Villalobos is a supporter and remixer of their tracks. The group’s arrival in Japan is part of a showcase for Tartelet, a new Copenhagen label that has already won the approval of the likes of Laurent Garnier and London vinyl hub Phonica, and is looking set to give some of its more established neighbors in nearby Berlin a serious run for their money…

Meanwhile, don’t miss new Jahcoozi album Barefoot Wanderer, out on Berlin’s BPitch Control. Sri Lankan-born Londoner MC  Sasha, Berliner Robert Koch and Israeli Oren Gerlitz form the band’s cultural stew, and there’s a distinct worldbeat influence throughout the album. Guests include Belgian singer Barbara Panther and free-jazz clay-pot percussionist Oori Shalev. For the haunting “Msoto Millions,” the trio even traveled to Kenya to collaborate with local reggae outfit Ukoo Flani. If, like me, you’re a sucker for novelty, the standout track is the throbbing version of The Cure’s “Close to Me.”

Although more melodic and poppy than previous albums Blitz N Ass and Pure Breed Mongrel, Barefoot Wanderer still provides plenty of growling basslines, broken beats and vast washes of dub. All of this is a bit leftfield for a release coming from renowned Berlin techno imprint BPitch—it would probably be better off in the eclectic DJ Diplo’s record bag than BPitch headmistress Ellen Allien’s. But it is undoubtedly phat, with an all-encompassing mix of genres that hints at the label venturing into newer (but still club-oriented) territories.

Undergram Presents Tartelet Records Showcase. DJs Fredski, Nino, etc. Live: Wareika. Apr 3, from 11:30pm, ¥4,000. Daikanyama. Tel: 03-5459-8630. www.unit-tokyo.com

Barefoot Wanderer is released Apr 19 on BPitch Control.