Ken Ishii

Ken Ishii

Real Name:
Ken Ishii
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DJ and producer from Japan.
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Aliases:
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Ken Ishii Discography

Albums

Ken Ishii Garden On The Palm (Album) R & S Records Belgium 1993 Sell This Version
SRCD001 ケン イシイ* Reference To Difference(CD, MiniAlbum) Sublime Records (3) SRCD001 Japan 1994 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Jelly Tones (Album) R & S Records Belgium 1995 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Metal Blue America (Album) R & S Records Japan 1997 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Sleeping Madness (Album) R & S Records Belgium 1999 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Flatspin (Album) SMEJ Associated Records Japan 2000 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Future In Light (Album) 70Drums Japan 2002 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Interpretations For Ken Ishii: Future In Light Remixed (Album) Exceptional UK 2004 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Sunriser (Album, Comp) 70Drums Japan 2006 Sell This Version
PIC037 Dave Angel & Ken Ishii Dave Angel & Ken Ishii - Frame By Frame Remixes(7xFile, MP3, 320) Plaza In Crowd PIC037 Japan 2011
FICS-2002 Ken Ishii Presents Metropolitan Harmonic Formulas Ken Ishii Presents Metropolitan Harmonic Formulas - Music For Daydreams(CD, Album, Blu) 70Drums, Sublime Records (3) FICS-2002 Japan 2012 Sell This Version
Marc Romboy & Ken Ishii Marc Romboy & Ken Ishii - Taiyo (Album, Comp) Systematic (3) Germany 2013 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

Ken Ishii Pneuma R & S Records Belgium 1993 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Deep Sleep Apollo Belgium 1993 Sell This Version
RS 93025, APOLLO 8 Ken Ishii Pneuma / Deep Sleep(2x12", W/Lbl, Promo) R & S Records, Apollo RS 93025, APOLLO 8 Belgium 1993 Sell This Version
SREP000 ケン イシイ* Fading Sky(7", Ltd) Sublime Records (3) SREP000 Japan 1994 Sell This Version
RS 94046 Ken Ishii Tangled Notes(12") R & S Records RS 94046 Belgium 1994 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Extra (Maxi) R & S Records Belgium 1995 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Circular Motion / Overlap (Maxi) Sony Records Japan 1996 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Overlap (Single) R & S Records Belgium 1996 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Stretch (Maxi) R & S Records Japan 1995 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Circular Motion R & S Records, Jockey Slut UK 1996 Sell This Version
Ken Ishii Echo Exit (Single, Maxi) R & S Records Japan 1997 Sell This Version
XDCS 93291 Ken Ishii KI001 Promo(CD, Single, Promo) R & S Records XDCS 93291 Japan 1997 Sell This Version
XDCS 93305 Ken Ishii Fire In White(CD, Single, Promo) R & S Records XDCS 93305 Japan 1998 Sell This Version

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D3I

D3I

January 22, 2014
You are also the best... Imagine? Now i love Banksy
Muesi

Muesi

December 24, 2009
Japanese techno artist Ken Ishii is among the most innovative, experimental composers in contemporary techno. Although working in and drawing from a decidedly dancefloor-oriented, Detroit-derived framework, Ishii's exploration of avant-garde compositional techniques like chromaticism and the prominent influence of digital synthesis figures him as strongly deviant from Motor City aesthetic tradition. A Tokyo native, Ishii's work is most resonant in feel perhaps to the work of Derrick May, though the influence of more artful electronic experimentalists like Yellow Magic Orchestra and Haruomi Hosono also figure prominently. Although Ishii has only been releasing music since the early '90s -- recording under his own name for the R&S label, as well as Rising Sun (for ESP), Utu (Plus 8), Flare (Sublime), and Yoga (ESP) -- his 1993 and 1994 R&S works, as well as his Sublime CD Reference to Difference are all benchmarks of techno futurism. Incorporating elements of British bleep and breakbeat techno, as well as elements of the 20th century avant-garde, Ishii's finest work expands on techno's rigid rhythmic structure, wedging in elements of chaos and disruption. Like the Black Dog, B12, and other armchair experimentalists, Ishii's music is often praised by DJs who nonetheless refuse to give his often challenging records much play. Although until only recently unknown in Japan and just a step above obscure on the global techno scene, Ishii's 1995 release Jelly Tones opened his work out onto a larger audience, prompting a world tour and growing repute as compsoser and DJ. In addition to a continuous performance and DJing schedule, Ishii also remixed tracks for Keiichi Suzuki, Tokyo Skaparadise Orchestra, Cova, and Masatoshi Nagase. Sleeping Madness, his first album for R&S in four years, dropped in 1999, and Flatspin followed a year later. ~ Sean Cooper, All Music Guide
djinsomnia

djinsomnia

October 15, 2001
edited over 14 years ago
Ken Ishii was born in Sapporo in 1970, soon he moved to Tokyo, a huge city in which, without any doubt, he inspired for later good works. The mixed Japanese traditions and the ultra-developed industrial impact all over his country have influenced Ken since he was very young and have made up his peculiar style gradually. He states that there isn't any connection between his music and the ancient traditions, although he admits both Japanese and European influences are pretty boring... "mixing is innovation".

As a good Japanese he says that concentration is essential for composing good music: "Sometimes I forget about eating and sleeping... in order to create you have to involve yourself in what you're doing, the rest are just accesories".

But Japanese not only live from concentration, machines play a big role in their lifes "knowing your devices perfectly well is the only way to make good music". Ken keeps his tools secret, the only thing he talks openly about is his refusement to the usual stuff: 909, 808, 303... his favorite synth is JD-800 "Now that many opportunists fight for those machines I prefer different devices... you must look forward and be original.".

"When I started to compose music - he says - , about five years ago, the fashionable stuff in Japan were all sounds from abroad and sung themes; then people didn't listen to the kind of things I was working on and there was no label interested in it. That's the reason for which I decided to send tapes to foreign countries. I thought it would be the fastest way to get known". The choice for the American label +8 was due for the next reason: "As a listener, I had the feeling to do something new; I wanted the same thing, chase... sounds that don't exist. But the audience isn't very big". He also wanted to express his spiritual state: "Due to the fact that techno music can be done on one's own, it allows you to make all individual expressions possible, unthinkable if we talk about other means. At the time when I composed those themes I was a bit depressed; the word 'Utu' in Japanese means 'depression' and the logo characters on the record were assymetric, reflecting a lack of balance".

Richie Hawtin so justifies the reasons which made him release in 1993 the music from a complete unknown young 23-year-old artist: "Yes, we published one of his first discs in +8 with the title Utu. He sent us one of the first demo-tapes we got from Japan, it was quite a surprise; there is a lot of techno made in Japan that shamelessly shoots at the techno made in Europe or America, fact that is pretty boring. I think Ken Ishii was the first person who introduced the Japanese personality into the techno music from Japan, something very special. His rhythms are very strange, simply because of their origin, and is so pleasant: he is great and overflows with talent".

Novel contributions in a fast changing musical scene such as techno are of great value. Traditional Japanese music synthesis, electronic instrumentation and Western techno influence have all made Ken Ishii reach a high place in a short time. "About two hundred years ago, the first Western influences arrived at Japan, added to the ones from Asia, because I am interested in the music from China, Korea or Indonesia, too, specially percussions. I have been born in Japan and have breathed in that mixture of cultures ever since. It's pretty understandable that I have assimilated all of them in the sounds I produce". Ken Ishii also speaks about the presence of spiritual elements in his music: "Actually, I can't see why is it necessary to make a difference between religion and electronic or other sorts of music, because I have probably reflected many aspects from Buddhism for I have been born in this circunference named Japan where there is a narrow relationship between life and religion. His works are often characterized by the importance of pressure and polyrhythms, with continous variations which remind us of Japanese rituals, despite a recent turn in his trajectory.

In his second album, "Jelly Tones" (R&S, 95), Ken tends to use more repetitive, dynamic and less complex patterns, opposed to his former works. "I don't think in Western/Eastern duality terms, mainly because inside myself there are so many things I'd like to do and show. In my first album ("Innerelements", 94, groups a series of four maxis for the label R&S) perhaps I was more interested in music for minorities. In the second album I didn't want to base my work upon Western patterns, but I wanted to do something which was inside me: work more around the idea of movement through sounds, that's what I had thought".

The music of "Jelly Tones" shows more recognisable rhythms, the sound is much more clear but the content is poorer. The change hasn't only affected the music but the whole display of his music: the best example is the video that goes along with the single "Extra", by the same director of "Akira", Katsuhiro Otomo, and has gained a lot of popularity. The problem is that the images overlap the music, being the former more appealing than the latter. Something similar happens in his life performances, like the last one at Sónar, where it could be seen the special emphasis on danceable themes (with Giorgio Moroder like sequences not present in his disc) and the unstoppable projection of looping images extracted from the video "Extra". On the stage Ishii stands out for his exotic and androgene look.

Nevertheless, it's quite reasonable to say that the music Ken produces right now, with a very few exceptions, is only an accesory or another ingredient. It doesn't sustain for itself as in previous discs, where there was much brain work, and needed concentration to follow a changeable and innovative sound, with a progressive drama kind of feeling, characteristic of risky experimental techno.

I still don't think Ken has sold himself to commercial music; actually he has simplified his initial propositions, changing them to yet unfinished sketches; long tracks that end (except one or two in certain moments) losing their interest. It's a type of work that needs visual backing for creating a shortlasting impact. What really contrasts the beginning of his career is that when his works were edited in Europe and USA, his public image was largely unknown, no data about him, everything relevant was his music, fact Ken Ishii himself has ratified: "This techno underground scene isn't structured like a pyramid; it's more like a link between all the fans over the world. You don't need to sell yourself through an image neither you need to be sensationalist. You don't have to create anything which isn't inherent to your music or take a false position. This is just pure music".

His last record promotion disclaims all this image stuff (his attitude towards the public is now paused and meditated). This change has brought him from the underground where he was aiming at with compilations like "Innerelements" and his works as Rising Sun, "Reference to Difference" (Sublime, 94), to a much more visible landscape. His performances in the already mentioned Sónar, the Love Parade festival at Berlin or the presentation of the video "Extra" (including a premiere) at the Ministry Of Sound club in London are proof of it. He has claimed "Jelly Tones" to be his first proper album, a tacit denial from his first discs, although it seems a bit early to be catastrophic due to Ken Ishii's versatile and creative resources. At least he seems interested in keeping up with projects such as Rising Sun

Ken Ishhii is one of the best known japanese Techno Artists here in Europe and is probably best known for his famous single "Extra" which appeared on his Album "Jelly Tones".
His music is a unique combination of Trance and Detroit and some Ambient stuff that makes his music so strong and different. But his success with his single "Extra" didn't exclusively come from his music style but the video was also as great and different as nothing seen before. Featuring an apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo like Manga Set and under the direction of Koji Morimoto ( director of the famous Akira Animée ) this video was probably the first Manga video the Techno scene has ever seen.
But Ken Ishii has done more than just this Album and also worked under different Labels and even different Names! Recently he has finished a new X-MIX video-cassette and CD featuring remixes of different artists.

With Japan at that time not exactly being the crossroads where all things techno came together, it was quite a revelation to hear Tokyo-based prodigy Ken Ishii (born in Sapporo, 1970) deliver such elaborate and idiosyncratic music as could be found on his crucial first releases for R&S and Apollo Records. The 12-inches "Garden on the Palm", "Pneuma", "Deep Sleep", and "Tangled Notes" spoke to the listener in a soothing timbre, offering the combined luxury of danceable, sensuous stimuli and evocative, natural calm. Hovering between techno-based avant-garde textures and subdued sonic bliss, this man was clearly aiming for musical enchantment of a different kind. Ishii defied all preconceived notions of sound, rhythm and tonality, veering as far away as possible from what is commonly known as popular music.

"Innerelements" (released in 1994), a CD-only selection from the recordings above coupled with some previously unreleased titles, put the richness of Ken's art in full perspective. Having assimilated a wide array of influences (Yellow Magic ORchestra, D.A.F., Hajime Tachibana, Kraftwerk, Derrick May,...) he manages to make them come alive in a context that surpasses all comparison, mutating the very concept to techno itself. It's not Detroit, it's not ambient, it's not trance, it's totally and utterly...music. Ken Ishii's music.

With the vast success of his album "Jelly Tones" (released on R&S Records in Japan and Europe in 1995) and the single "Extra" (accompanied by the stunning animated video from director Kouji Morimoto, recently voted "Dance video of the Year" by MTV viewers at U.K. magazine Muzik's Saints And Sinners Awards), Ishii broke out of the confines of a specialist audience and took the music world by storm. Not only has his work gained a maturity that makes the most "intelligent" techno sound like remedial karaoke, it also bears an emotional content so refined that anyone with an open mind for music can relate to it.

On the live front Ken has left his mark as well: intensive touring throughout Europe and Japan (where Ishii-mania is reaching astonishing heights) in the wake of "Jelly Tones" proved that he is one of the few techno artists able to deliver the goods on stage. He has appeared at every summer festival of repute in Europe. Coming up for 1997 to be released via The Medicine Label is the first single, "Extra", available on special edition vinyl and generic pills artwork. A true collectors must have item.

The Japanese invented and manufactued the bulk of the technology that enabled the Americans and Europeans to create electronic music, but it took a talent like Ken Ishii to lead the way in the creation of their own fusion of mysticism and hi-tech. Keep your ears to the East: the first of the oriental illuminaries has arrived.

"I've been curious why America is not so interested in [techno] yet," says Ken Ishii from his New York City hotel room just hours before his first appearance in the US. "American1995's Jelly Tones, released in Europe and his native Japan, is a splendid mix of the sublime and the subversive. The lp is a beautiful mix of contrasting textures. "EXTRA" is a high-octane soundtrack, while "Moved By Air" is a smooth and ethereal track with a slow tribal rhythm. "Ethos 9" incorporates glass-like synth lines and shuffling drum rhythms. "Stretch" and "Frame Out" feature a brute force beat and the hardened, minimalist edge of late-80s industrial music.

Ishii's diverse influences include Nitzer Ebb, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Front 242, Kraftwerk and even rock bands such as The Boredoms and newer Ministry. Ishii has proven his mastery of electronic music with his uncanny ability to compose music that is not easily categorized. Ishii is humbly quick to downplay his talent.

"The way I create sound is not so special, I think," says Ishii. "When I create sound I always make a specific abstract image in my head. Sometimes it's beautiful scenery or sometimes a Dali painting. I try to make sounds close to the paintings and the images."

"You have to know your equipment to create strange or weird sounds. I read manuals a lot. It's very boring."

His music certainly is not.

Jelly Tones is now available domestically through The Medicine Label. Ishii is still without a long-term North American deal, but he seemed optimistic about his future prospects. For a fine sampling of Ishii's early work (1993-1994) check out Innerelements (R&S), a cd-only import compiling unreleased material and tracks from several 12"s. music has always been a bit of an influence for Japanese music. We think it's time. It's just time that America get interested in this type of music."

Ishii has reason to wonder when you consider his overwhelming success in Europe and Japan, where he is a major draw, spinning and performing with the likes of Alex Patterson (The Orb) and Richard James (Aphex Twin). In 1993 he had two No. 1 hits on New Music Express's techno chart. Since then Ishii has recorded under his own name and also as Rising Sun and Flare for European and Japanese labels such as R&S, Sublime, Apollo and Sony Japan. His only North American release until recently was a 12" recorded under the name UTU on Richie Hawtin's Plus 8 label. Ishii's biggest triumph so far came last year with "EXTRA," the opening track from Jelly Tones, and its spectacular anime video directed by Kouji Morimoto (Akira). It was chosen as dance video of the year by European mtv viewers, edging out The Prodigy and Pharcyde.

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