If it was only about buying the records, these trips to Japan would be almost too easy. By this point – about seven years after the first go ’round – we know our way around the larger of the country’s cities. At least the parts we’re always housed. A two hour soundcheck at the rather cavernous (as in floor to ceiling; the venue resembles a tall cigar box) Triangles club did nothing to maintain Cut’s single-turntable set up after the warm up band moved their equipment in to place. His rig is simple but it needs to actually work – one deck, plugged into a mixer, running through a loop-pedal on the floor (with two cameras focusing on the turntable and the floor piece) – in order for him to pull off the rather insane feat of building an entire set of ever-stacking loops for almost an hour.
We arrived at the venue around midnight. The main two floors – next to empty. The band on stage played, rather feverishly I noted, for an audience of twenty. In the lounge, three floors above the stage, Cut lambasted anyone in earshot as to the band’s all-too-eager commandeering of his rig. Some English (or was he Australian?) guy who was probably with the band tried to ascertain exactly what was going wrong. “What exactly did you say, my man?” Cut’s not a nice guy when he suspects that the night might be over before it starts.
Lucky for him, Kota was able to go find everyone necessary (it always seems to take about five Japanese dudes having a conversation to get something done, especially when there’s a problem), fix Cut’s set up, and put the man at ease before I worked my way on stage. The space had filled in by that point and, surprisingly, Osaka’s cognescenti (well, I’d like to think they are!) was in to a set of Arabic and Meditteranean beat-heavy psychedelic belly-dance music (with the obligatory Sarah Webster Fabio and Key and Cleary joints thrown in for good measure).
By the time Cut took the, uh, turnable and explained what he was about to do, the crowd was so damn WITH it that he could do no wrong. Not that he did. His one turntable routine is a sight to behold – each song coming together from fragments of 45s from the Sudan, beats from Malaysia, yelps from Colombia – and, of course, an aural delight. I sat behind the table, trying to catch what the fuck he was doing through the cigarette smoke. Over the course of an hour, he erred not once. By the time he was done with his set, playing “Curse Upon The World” by Apple and 3 Oranges and lamenting “sounds like something homey wrote on the way to jail” about Ed “Apple” Nelson’s woeful L.A. funk masterpiece, I was hanging from the rafters, literally, coaxing the last bits of champagne from the bottle I’d opened earlier that eve.