Declan Kolakowski

Asia-wave JazzFunk and Oreo Analysis

Added on by Declan Kolakowski.

Did you know there was JazzFunk (and rap) scene in KJ Asia area? Travelling in Japan you will hear jazz in lots of bars, shopping malls and cafés. My assumption was that this was recycled easy listening Jazz from the west. It's not. Korea and Japan seem to have coined there own unique aesthetic of how JazzFunk should be. It's very vapor; latin beats, long blended harmonies, some rap rhythms, synth guiro. It seems to have taken on v-wave in and interesting way, turning repetition into an easy-listening mesmer that internalises the v-aesthetic while giving it more teeth. Hence I stumbled recently upon Kyoto Jazz Massive.

Disembodied voices are a type of ecstasy. "ba-da-da-ba da-ba" and break beats are the perfect easy lounge, but the break down is something else. Our 4 o'clock Laurie Johnson choir becomes heavenly underpinning the floating melodic consistency of the the synth. Then the "latin rhythms" return with a big break between the second and third beats spacing the chords fantastically.

Korean rap over an American Boy chord sequence. Also the delay effect on the female singers voice reminds me of a fountain. The rap isn't great, for some reason all I hear is "whipped cream"?

Funk par excellence, it feels more funky than funk but its contextualised in a very critical. Absurdly, the bridge cuts back to traditional jazz, a melismatic piano and a scratchy bass. I also sampled a section from the beginning of this in a piece I did recently called Funkogram which I used as a study piece to try and create delay and reverb effects using only cutting and splicing. No plugins or effects. I think Shuya knew what I was doing.

And a song from the actual people behind Kyoto Jazz Massive. Much more song-like in fact, a big departure from the aesthetic of their signees.

I also saw this video from the The Verge recently that I think might illustrate perfectly what post-modern criticism should aspire to be. It's called "the best Oreo you can buy" and features a "journalist" called Dan Seifert sitting in sort of post-Orwellian singularity set - entirely black background, lit from above, a table packed with Oreos ... and some milk - tasting loads of different types of Oreos and talking at length (although the video is only 3:08 long) about the correct categorisation of the Oreo, the nuances of its flavour, the amount of filling you get and rating each Oreo.

I can only describe the experience of watching it as sublime. Of course whole new avenues of food criticism are being awakened here. Apple float watermelon caramel whatever? I don't really know. But there's something ascendent and archival about the quality of engagement with a commercial food stuff that makes your shit black (obviously depending on which Oreo type you eat). It's strange to me as well that Dan is trusted as the arbiter of good taste on something that The Verge obviously thinks its viewership care dearly about... or maybe they don't.

I like the arguments in the comment section at least, people say that the Oreo ecosystem is "fragmented", that The Verge is a corrupt capitalistic cesspool. Some even claim the video is a joke to get people to "argue about cookies on the internet." I don't think this can be true. Good taste in sugary food stuffs amongst tech savvy twenty-somethings is really important.

Are these two things connected. Do vapor-wave-ous fumes of KJ JazzFunk and other world of Oreo tasting (the vast majority of flavors we don't have in England) have something in common? Are the post-Capital spheres of derivative musical production in industrial Asia and the constant pumping out of sickening food by a giant corporation that are taken up as exemplar of cultural production by a small group of internet journalists linked?

No.

Happy New Year (as of tomorrow).