Thursday, 30 June 2011

..of Kangaroos and Kickin' Tunes 1 - Dazzle Vision ダズルヴィジョン (J-Rock)

Welcome to "...of Kangaroos and Kicking Tunes." For this series I will be exploring various genres of music from all over the globe, but in fitting with the theme of this website, I will obviously be narrowing my focus on the Australian and Japanese music scene mostly. Being an Aussie, I of course have grown up listening to many excellent home-grown bands and artists and I am very excited to share them all with my readers.

On the other 手, I have NOT been especially savvy with the Japanese music scene for most of my music appreciating years, however, I have been putting in a fair amount of 'listening research' and 'performing research' (read: karaoke) over the past two or so years. For Japanese music, my tastes so far lie mostly within the alternative and indie scene which happens to work to this blog's advantage because in a sea of otaku freak-outs over your AKB48s and Morning Musumes, it may be somewhat refreshing to read articles about the artists that exist on the fringe of Japan's underground scene.

So without further ado, let me introduce this edition's band!!
Name: Dazzle Vision
Country: Japan 
Style: Rock 
Famous-ness/Prominence: Not particularly well known (yet)

Through all my Japanese band prospecting work, Dazzle Vision stand out as one of my most treasured unearthings. The band was formed in 2003 and is composed of your standard vocalist, bassist, guitarist, and drummer setup. Well, I say standard in reference to the setup, but when it comes to the vocalist, Maiko, she is anything but standard. One of Maiko's and the band's major draw cards is her excellent Operatic-Death Metal voice switching ability. I guess you could call her the Japanese woman version of Serj Tankian (of System of a Down fame), lol. Rather than a gimmick, the use of both her singing voices is done in a way to complement the momentum and emotion of the music driving it. The song VISION (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy3tJAQ2Rrw) would be a shining example of this style.

The band has released a steady stream of EPs and albums from 2003, with their earlier efforts being slightly marred by their initial green-ness. What has been enjoyable to witness, is how their sound has evolved over time, with the last 3 or so years seeing a marked sophistication in their production methods and artistic direction. It is obvious to me that they have always held the goal of producing both rocking-out-hard type songs as well as those epic, lovely songs that pull a little at the heart-strings. Their albums have indeed been getting stronger and stronger, but for me, the breakthrough has been with their latest album 'Kirari.' Again we see the band playing to their strengths as well as mixing in a bit of jazzy rock with 'Miss Cinderella 2' which is enjoyable as a bit of a stand-alone offering. 
In playing with their strengths, the songs "Juunigatsu" (December) and "One for all, All for one" are particularly memorable 'rocking-out-hard' songs and "Tsuki to Taiyou" (Moon and Sun) and "Sakura" are two 'epic-lovely' finishers to a great album. With the exception of "Miss Cinderella 2," the songs slot in together very nicely and definitely produce a consistent and very big sounding album. Can't wait to see what they can do next!!

If you are interested in hearing their music, check out the website, JapanFiles (http://www.japanfiles.com/dazzlevision

If you like what you hear, consider supporting this band by buying a few of their songs.

So that'll do it for now! Thanks for reading! If you've got any recommendations, I would love to hear about them in the comments section below!

Rock on!

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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

1000 hits!!!

Thanks very much to everybody for visiting my humble little space. I am thrilled to have already received 1000 hits :D Will be trying my best to continue to bring you some fun entries. For now I will leave you with some news in lieu of a more fleshed out entry that will be coming soonish.

So the news is that I will be working in a small city in Aichi Prefecture 愛知県!! I have been in contact with my supervisor, predecessor and some of the local JETs, and at this stage, it looks like it will be a good place to go.

more to come later...

Daniel

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

オーストラリアを建てている:NSW州のスノーウィーマウンテンズスキーム。 Constructing Australia: NSW's Snowy Mountains Scheme

第二次世界大戦に続いて、戦後の建設と発展には大量のエネルギーが必要とされました。1949年に、ニューサウスウェールズ州のマレーとマランビージー地域に灌漑の水源を備えるため、また安価な水力発電のエネルギーを発電するために、山間部の水を利用するスノーウィーマウンテンズスキームと言う計画が作られました。 この多目的な、マルチ貯水池システムは、3200平方キロメートルにわたり 、10万人以上の労働者を動員し、25年間もかけて建てられました。 計画開始の時点では、熟練した国内労働者が不足していたので、熟練した外国人労働者を募集するキャンペーンが始められました。この計画と連邦政府の移民計画が、互いに多くの外国人の家族の移民を促進しました。 総労働人口の3分の2は外国人労働者で占められました。 移民の大半は、ヨーロッパの中央と東からやってきました。 これらの家族の多くは、戦争で荒廃した国を脱出していたので、新しい生活を探していました。 興味深いことに、計画の設計者がノルウェー人、コミッショナーがニュージーランド人、技術長がアングロ・インディアンでした。 地方の団体が、様々なクラブや協会を形成し、文化や英語の授業を無料で提供することによって、移民がオーストラリアの生活習慣に融合することを手伝いました。 ブッシュ詩人のバンジョーパターソンの詩と「スノーウィーリッバーからの男」と言う映画も、スノーウィーマウンテンズスキームの熱心な勤労者から刺激を得て生まれました。 彼らはその地域のために素晴らしい仕事を行い、そしてまた、オーストラリアの歴史の重要な一部です。 

Following World War II, post-war construction and development required a high amount of energy. In 1949, the Snowy Mountains Scheme was established in NSW to utilise the waters of the high country regions to irrigate the Murray and Murrumbigee areas and to cheaply generate large amounts of hydro-electric energy. The multipurpose, multi-reservoir system covers 3200km2 and was built by over 100,000 personnel over a 25 year period. At the time of the scheme's inception, there was a national shortage of skilled personnel, so a campaign to recruit skilled foreigners began. Together with the Commonwealth Government's Immigration scheme, the project facilitated the immigration of many foreign families. 2/3 of the final workforce was composed of foreign workers. The majority of the immigrants came from Central and Eastern Europe. Many of these families were escaping their war-torn countries and were looking for a new start in life. Interestingly, the designer for the scheme was a Norweigan, the first Commissioner was a New Zealander and the Chief Engineer was an Anglo-Indian. The migrants were assisted by local organisations in their assimilation into the Australian way of life by forming various clubs and societies and by providing free cultural and English language education. The hard workers of the Snowy Mountains Scheme inspired poems by bush poet, Banjo Patterson and later, a film called The Man from Snowy River. They did a great job for the local region and are an important part of Australian history.

References
"Building the Snowy Scheme - A multi-cultural experience," Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. Retrieved from http://www.multiculturalaustralia.edu.au/doc/snowysch_3.pdf

McHugh, S The Snowy: The People Behind the Power, Melbourne, Heinemann, 1989.

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Sunday, 5 June 2011

Japanese Mini Lesson 3 - Bicycle!

For some reason, the Japanese have (at least) 3 different ways to say bicycle, all interesting in their own way. The first way to say bicycle is 自転車・じてんしゃ・jiten-sha. The first part of the word, as I read it, comprises 自転 which means rotation on an axis. The last part, 車, represents vehicle. So it may mean "rotation-on-an-axis vehicle." The other way I could read it is by considering the 3 elements separately; 自(self), 転 (turning around), 車 (vehicle) giving "self-turn/ing-vehicle." Personally I prefer the second explanation as it sounds so logical.

The other two names for bicycle made me laugh when I first heard them, showcasing the humour found in the nomenclature of some Japanese words/expressions. The first is the name for the very common bike that has the¯\_-_/¯ のような handlebars (and often sports a smart-looking basket on the front). It is named "ママチャリ" which is composed of "mama" and "bike." A common misconception amongst learners of Japanese is that チャリ is derived from the borrow/外来 word チャリオット・chariot. チャリ actually comes from ちゃりんこ (a word that is interesting enough in itself and worthy of a different installation of "mini Japanese lesson"). This misconception has however opened up a hilarious vision/mnemonic that a few of us have been using. It gives us "Mama's Chariot," you know, the bike that mothers go out and do their errands (用事・you-ji) on. Haha.

The last name I have for you is ケッタマシーン・ketta-mashiin・"kicked-machine". I have been told that this is an expression used in Nagoya. It has purportedly been used since around about the late 60s and the term may not often be used anymore (Japanese source: http://oshiete.goo.ne.jp/qa/90451.html ). I would love to know in which spirit this name was actualised. I fervently hope it was a drunken coining at the meeting of a particularly genius brains trust.

Next time you tell your Japanese friend that you are "going by bike", which term will you use?

Until next time, happy studies. じゃね~

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Japanese Mini Lesson 2: ♥♥♥ Love at first sight / 一目惚れ♥♥♥


一目惚れ / ひとめぼれ / Hitomebore

一目惚れ means to be taken with someone at first sight and is very similar to love at first sight, though some academics argue that it is a slightly less powerful expression. In any case, it would be great to describe someone that was taken aback, had their breath momentarily stolen, deftly walked into a door (etc.) upon the first sight of someone that made their heart skip a beat. Please enjoy the example sentence below.

例 文  /  れいぶん  /  Reibun (Example Sentence):
激しく雨が降っていたのでケンが傘をさしかけたところ、マイ一目惚れしてしまった。
It was pelting down with rain, and when Ken held out his umbrella to aid Mai, she experienced love at first sight.

Literally--> Violently raining (past) due to, Ken umbrella held out moment, Mai love at first sight did thoroughly.
Literal translations like these are useful for you guys coming to grips with the order of verbs and objects etc. in Japanese sentences.

Hope that was fun! Let's hope someone holds out an umbrella for you during 梅雨!
日本語に頑張ってください!