Kahimi Karie is working on her new album in a studio in Nakameguro. Although I'm not involved this time, I'm invited to drop by and listen. The album's being produced by Kanda and Koki Takai, seen here playing a short wave radio like a musical instrument. Koki is the man behind 'Metromusica', the fabulously minimalist track which begins Takako Minekawa's 1997 'Athletica' release.

Although her album will boast several songs by Philippe Katerine and one by Toog, Kahimi is writing many of the lyrics herself this time. She tells me it's been hard, after so many years of handing the writing chores to me, to try and make a song herself. The one she shows me, a French song about a trapeze artist who dreams that her parents have black blood, is pretty good; dark and melodramatic, very 'Wings of Desire'.

The tracks I hear are multi-layered free jazz workouts, saxophones blasting and improvising in big knots and clusters around Kahimi's reedy voice. Brigitte Fontaine's work with Art Ensemble of Chicago is clearly a reference. But this is more slick, less oblique and less dynamic than 'Comme A La Radio' or 'Brigitte Fontaine Est Folle'. Those records would cut back to very sparse passages where Brigitte's existentialist-revolutionary-surrealist poetry could come forcefully to the fore. But this sounds like a big wild jam session all the way through, with Kahimi poised precariously atop the maelstrom of soloing horns and guitars like the sugarplum fairy.

She tells me she's going to do a song from 'Carmen' too. Opera, free jazz, close harmony barbershop, radical chanson, SW radio and jazz rock... clearly the album isn't going to be short on classic Shibuya-kei -- uh, sorry, Nakame-kei -- genre fusion.

I also chat with Cornelius, who's currently working with the brilliant Haruomi Hosono (ex-YMO, executive producer of my favourite 80s retro pop classicist Miharu Koshi and label boss to Hirono Gutevolk Nishiyama) and will be playing guitar with Hosono's group Sketch Show in December. He's also remixed some tracks from the forthcoming Beck album, a Dan The Automator-produced 'rock' record, and will soon be touring Australia for the first time.

He tells me Takako is currently working on some 'CM' -- commercial music for a car company. No other music is immediately imminent from her. Both these facts disappoint me. I'm a fan of Takako, but not of cars and their commercials.

Cornelius is a remarkably kind man. He gives me a copy of his new 5 inch vinyl single, 'I Love Love / I Hate Hate', which comes in an amazing origami sleeve. When I mention that I have no record player to play it on, he says 'Ah, wait a moment!' and comes back with another gift -- the limited edition transparent Cornelius record player he designed for Columbia.



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