“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today its song for ewe squared with two outstanding out-there artists namely Shigeru Isihara aka DJ Scotch Egg (a resolute favourite of John Peel) and Kiki Hitomi ex of Ninja Tune’s King Midas Sound who record together as WaqWaq Kingdom. They have an esoteric, neon new album “Essaka Hoisa” out on 15th November on VS’s label of the year Brighton’s Phantom Limb records and it’s a wibbly molecular treat, refreshing like squatting under a waterfall as a Shinto technique, sleek and with a low centre of gravity like a Sumo doing Shiraishi across the Dohyo.
True sonic adventurers, they combine traditional Japanese Shinto bells with stuttering Afro-trap beats and polyrhythms with a bit of dancehall and 8 bit techno thrown in for very good measure. It’s a thrilling combo from an exciting duo, and they’ve chosen an imagination lassoing double bill of weird tuneage for your delectation – welcome to VS, so good they (kind of) named them twice WaqWaq Kingdom!
This is WaqWaq Kingdom’s second album after 2017’s Shinsekai on Leipzig based label Jahtari, but their first as a duo, since drummer Andrea Belfi (Nils Frahm, Mike Watt, David Grubbs) has zipped off for other projects. It doesn’t suffer, in fact, the interplay is more concentrated than a fresh OJ in the early AM. Essaka Hoisa is influenced from traditional Japanese history and mythology, with the title a reference to the cry of kago carriers used to lift spirits and strengthen unity by people who carried ruling-class or religious dignitaries over great distances. Thematically it also deals with loss, with Kiki having sadly lost both parents last year, and how to pass on legacy – and it does this with a brilliant lightness of touch, a gravity defying deftness.
It’s thrilling to get these two pop polymaths onto VS – Kiki Hitomi is a former member of King Midas Sound (along with The Bug and Roger Robinson), and co-founded iconic Japanese dubstep-noise duo Dokkebi Q as well as illustrating countless eyepopping record sleeves and I’ve been a fan of DJ Scotch Egg for a while since Peel used to play him a ton (and he was part of the “Keeping It Peel” tribute show alongside the likes of Mike Paradinas and Shitmat after the legend’s sad passing in 2004) not to mention being a member of UK Too Pure band Seefeel and also releasing deliciously ridiculous solo albums on Load Records (Lightning Bolt, Six Finger Satellite etc) – so I was intrigued to hear their eclectic choices of tune. Without further ado, here are WaqWaq Kingdom’s “song/s for ewe”…
Kizaki Ondo Preservation Society – Kizaki Ondo (1980)
An original Minyo called “Kizaki Ondo”, it was recorded in 1980 (EM Records). The clear pink vinyl comes with English & Japanese liner notes, rare photos about the Japanese Minyo culture and history. It hypnotised me and gives me the feeling of a slow trance state of mind. The very warm recording captures a Japanese Matsuri (festival) vibe and uplifting melody. However, the lyrics was originally created and sang by the girls who got sold by poor families and worked in the kitchens or red-light districts to work at the new thriving post town on the Nikko Reiheishi Kaito Highway. They were so lonely and longing to be back home, so sang this song thinking about their families and home.
Shigeru Ishihara/DJ Scotch Egg:
Nihiloxica – Endongo
An amazing live band from Uganda, formed by Jacob Maskell-Key and Peter Jones alongside Nilotica Cultural Ensemble. It’s a perfect mix of experimental electric music and Ugandan traditional percussion sound, making new and interesting, not so obvious African music.
THANKS TO KIKI AND SHIGERU OF WAQWAQ KINDOM AND TO KEN LI OF PHANTOM LIMB
Check out another new WaqWaq Kingdom track “Mum Tells Me”…