The last time I played live in Japan, back in March, it was with Romanporsche, a Japanese alternative comedian who performed buck naked apart from some silver eye glitter. I got there to discover the event was totally a joke 80s night. Looking down at my flared pale blue 70s safari suit and my set of -- by comparison -- sadly sincere songs, I realised it was going to be one of those typically Tokyo 'interesting' evenings of cultural crazy paving cemented with a glue of poignant, totally respectful mutual incomprehension.

Last night's show at Warszawa was, in its way, equally 'interesting'. I followed Discom, an excellent young french glitchtop duo. (In their guise as Buro they also happened to be the organisers of the Headphone Concert I attended in Paris in August.) The other performers, Daisuke Ishida and Robert Duckworth, were also laptoppers. (Or 'Japtoppers' as Robert prefers to say. He calls me a 'poptopper'.)

About ten minutes before I went onstage I asked the organiser if there was a mike on the stage. There wasn't! In fact, there wasn't a mike anywhere in the building! It was like asking for a bow and arrow in the age of laser guns! The sound guy was sent out and returned with a mike borrowed from a nearby studio. Finally I could take the stage. People were sitting on the floor, others standing at the back. Discom hadn't paused between pieces, so nobody was clapping between songs. Which was fine, but it made the whole thing a little spooky, like some over-intense theatrical presentation. (Ah, so this is Spooky Kabuki -- this delicate pindrop silence!) I did few of my usual campy mimes and dances, just stood there by my iBook singing the songs. I'd chosen the darker ones:

A Lapdog
'Powerless with my talk of Guy Debord and Gide' the song begins, 'To rival a chihuahua or some other breed of lapdog...' And that's how it felt. Powerless because the mike wasn't working on those lines, and because even if it had been, most of the audience wouldn't have understood. Lapdogs and laptops appeal universally. My lyrics made me feel incongruously anglo-saxon.

Beowulf (I Am Deformed)
Picture me doing a kind of Bowie-as-Elephant-Man spazmo-tilt, and limping my 30 centimeter radius of stage like Richard III as played by Johnny Rotten and Sir Lawrence Olivier.

Electrosexual Sewing Machine
Picture me forgetting the words.

Is It Because I'm A Pirate?
I'm growly, I gesticulate with my free hand and eye, I swagger half-heartedly.

Last Communist
The pindrop silence is broken by a lone cheer of support when I announce, at the end, 'That's my contribution to the war on terrorism!'

Lovely Tree
I kneel on the floor, lost in the beauty of the song's bleak storm. It's got rattling thunder sheets like New Order's 'In A Lonely Place'.

Multiplying Love
Now I'm Analog Baroquing it up. Where's my coffee house wit wig? Do they have coffee house wits in Kitchijioji?

My Sperm Is Not Your Enemy
This speaks a more Japanese language. It sounds like the cute fascist music that plays from school buidlings all over Tokyo at 5 o'clock. I sing like a cute feminist at the end: 'She who controls the sperm of men controls the world!' (Download an mp3 of this song here.)

Oskar Tennis Champion
I announce that the industrial sounds are from small workshops in Sumida.

Scottish Lips
I switch rapidly from cookery tips to insults, from friendly laughter to threats. The audience looks puzzled.

Palm Deathtop
I'm distraught.

Onstage everything feels superdark, confusing and bitter. But not in a bad way. Just autistic. I know the subtlety of the lyrics is lost in front of this mostly non-English speaking audience who've come, essentially, to hear people making sexy avant noise with Max/MSP. Afterwards I say to organiser Yoyo 'I feel like the two thousand year old man, still doing songs!'

'No,' she replies, 'it's a new, fresh element to this crowd. It's like you just invented singing and everyone's going 'Hey, that's quite a novel concept -- laptop glitch with singing on top of it!''

Maybe it'll catch on!

Warszawa, by the way, turns out to be quite the best record store for experimental electronica I've seen in Tokyo. Sections for genres like Glitch, Microscopic and Folktronica, and even an American Patchwork area! Their website has sound samples of new releases.

A girl with her own cable TV show on Sky PerfecTV taped an interview and filmed the whole set, and tells me the results will be archived on her site in a month or so.



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