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Bubbly music jiggled the floorboards of Matilda’s Sake Bar, which was already loud with glass clinks and laughter. I descended the wooden steps and a popping disco riff overlaid with an open-top-through-a-neon-city harmony hit me. De Ja Vu had me stepping off the streets of Golden Gai again, ducking my way into a tightly packed, vibrant bar. At the foot of the stairs, the Ongaku Yoru duo, Kyle and M.Baron, were cueing up another rare Japanese record. A red sun and its striped rays spanned the ceiling, Hitachino White Ale, and Asahi filled the bar’s fridges, and best of all, Taeko Ohnuki’s untuned radio voice led the groove.

After settling in with the Nakama, I had a word with M.Baron and Kyle. While they do Ongaku Yoru as a team, they have separate projects as well. Kyle has played on NTS and currently hosts his own show on Netil Radio. They agreed that as DJs and collectors, they like to stick primarily to vinyl. There’s a lot of stuff written in the grooves of wax that has never found its way to digital, so after a while, you get an eye for where to look and that’s when you can find the real niche gems. Although, sometimes CDJs alongside a pair of Technics can be fun as it works the other way too.  But to a collector, vinyl is the obvious choice, no matter the cost.

Ongaku Yoru 1

In Japan, certain things like books or records come with an obi strip. That name descends from the sash, or obi, that ties around a Kimono. The obi strip is a piece of card or paper wrapped around the product. It normally holds some information aimed at the seller rather than the customer, but more than anything else it has come to hold value. Two of the exact same records can soar in price difference if one has lost its obi-strip.

Over the course of the night, the DJs played everything from 80’s Japanese City Pop classics (and obscures), to more contemporary electronic music. The energy of the set was light and bouncy, the songs sometimes erring on children’s cartoon levels of hyperactivity. That didn’t affect the relaxed levels of the people though. Squeezed up on a sofa chatting, bopping their heads to the rhythm, or appreciating the warm surroundings, everybody’s mood was lifted by the beats. It’s no question that the Japanese music scene is vastly different from the UK’s, so it was amazing to hear such a versatile selection of entirely new dance music spanning some fifty years or more. The mix of intrigue and groove coalescing in the buzzing basement of Matilda’s Sake Bar made Ongaku Yoru a very warm, unique night out in London.

See Nakama’s Visits Ongaku Yoru on Video Page

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About Cleary Mallard

My Katamari is always rolling, picking up new underground music and videogames from Japan. I DJ and produce as Kamer, vibrating dubstep, noise, ambient and videogame soundtracks.