Ken Ishii, out of dance clubs and into daydreams

Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:26pm EST
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By Alastair Himmer

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's trail-blazing techno king Ken Ishii has rocked massive crowds the world over with his dance floor beats, but for his latest album he drew inspiration from what some may think an odd choice much closer to home -- a luxury Tokyo shopping mall.

Ishii, 41, is nothing if not unconventional and even as his popularity has grown -- he has risen from playing clubs to the MTV Video Music Awards, made the cover of Newsweek magazine and composed the theme song for the 1998 Winter Olympics -- the master music mixer has tried to remain true to his roots even as his songs make their way into spaces as common as elevators.

"I didn't want to become commercial but music always does," Ishii told Reuters. "I'm an old-school techno kind of guy."

His new project "Music for Daydreams" has the formal title "Ken Ishii presents Metropolitan Harmonic Formulas" and is released in February, almost 20 years after Ishii cut his first track.

The 11-song album marks a small departure for the soft-spoken producer and DJ with a delicate shift in pace from his staple, techno voodoo. He collaborated with jazz musicians, and took two years to complete the record that grew from his work mixing music for the Tokyo Midtown Galleria, a trendy shopping, restaurant and hotel complex in Roppongi, Tokyo.

"I wanted to do something for daytime," Ishii told Reuters. "I always DJ at night so I wanted to do something different. Something for day people."

He said the songs cross many genres and have a timeless feel, but are "still my kind of electronic music."

Ishii burst onto the music scene in the early 1990's, tearing up dance floors in Europe before Japan knew what techno music was.   Continued...