I’m not much of a gambler. I used to play poker with my friends in high school and college for pots made up entirely of loose change, and it was fun because over the course of an entire evening you’d lose maybe $10 if you really did poorly. But poker ceased being fun maybe 15 or so years ago when it started appearing on TV and people got real serious about playing it, with all this talk of little blinds, big blinds, and buy-ins. It all came to a head for me at a tournament a friend put together at his house where I ended up at a table with a lot of guys I didn’t know who were super serious about the whole thing. The only thing fun about that evening was one guy in particular trying to decide if I was brilliant and trying to snow them all, or if I was really as bad as I appeared to be (answer – it was the latter). As for Vegas, I’ve been there once in the last decade, on a trip for work, and I didn’t even so much as drop a quarter into a slot machine. I’m the guy who goes to Vegas and has to pay for his booze. Let’s be honest, those casinos aren’t there because there are ways for you to beat the house. Frankly if I’m going to blow some cash, I’d rather just go to the record store.
Which is how I come to be playing this cassette last weekend. A little over a week ago I was at Jet Set Records in Kyoto and I ran across a display of cassettes put out by Ocirco Records. Given that I don’t read Japanese, I knew exactly nothing about these other than that the label the store put on them read “Indie/Rock”. And if there’s one kind of gambling I DO like to do it’s rolling the dice on some random music, because worst case scenario I get to hear something new and still have the physical object which I could maybe sell or trade later. So at ¥1,000 each (about $10 US) I figured I should pick one up, because why not? It’s not like I’ll ever run across one of these at home.
The one I grabbed is by an artist named Taroomi (たろおみ), 13-tracks of lo-fi weirdness recorded onto a standard Maxell 60 minute cassette, just like the kind we used to make mixtapes back in the day. たろおみの宿題 is sort of bizarre, sounding very much like the kind of true indie music recorded in someone’s bedroom. The recording quality itself is actually quite decent, with the songs themselves hard to pin down stylistically, though the whole thing has sort of a shoegaze vibe to it. And I kind of like the fact that I don’t know what’s around the corner each time one song ends and another is about to begin. As an added bonus it came with a download card inside because let’s be honest, how often does one have access to a tape player any more?
You, however, get the benefit of the power of the interwebs, because Ocirco Records posted this thing in its entirety on YouTube if you want to explore it. It’s pretty cool, so you should definitely go give it a try.