Friday, December 12, 2008

Rie fu - Vintage Denim

This is something I was looking at, quite a few months ago. Since then, I've increased my knowledge of Japanese significantly, I'd say. Plus I can use the dictionary much more effectively.

Rie fu's "Vintage Denim" is from her Rose Album. It's mostly in English, and the Japanese parallels the English, but there's some slight differences here and there. I feel confident enough to tackle a mostly-Japanese Rie fu song now, but anyway, here's the few Japanese lines of "Vintage Denim":

VINTEJI no DENIMU o haite KAATEN o aketara sotto
Wearing vintage denim, the curtains softly brighten with the dawn
amai RINEN ni dakare KAATEN o maku youna
Embraced by sweet linen, as if rolled up in curtains
BIGGU BEN ni akari ga miete miagetara sore wa ookiku
You see the light from Big Ben, if you raise your eyes to its greatness
tsutsumikonde kono machi mo atatakai
Wrapped up, this city is also warm
tsumetai kaze ni hokorimamire no kutsu
In the cold wind, shoes covered in dust

They say that Rie fu isn't that popular in Japan, which is an understandable shame. I see her music as a synthesis of American and Japanese styles. She's got the harmonic and melodic complexity of Japanese pop, with the instrumentation and rhythms of American pop. And her voice -- it's an honest voice, with a twang that probably came from the time she spent in Maryland. Going up against the Oricon with this innovative hybrid takes some guts, and I'm surprised that Sony has marketed her so consistently. Lately though, her music has seemed more commercial in nature -- the Tobira Album feels more produced, and has less of what I've come to regard as the Rie fu trademark: long, drawn-out explorations, with unconventional song structures and complex chord progressions and melodies. Perhaps she's feeling pressure to be more mainstream, to "succeed" in the Japanese market. I can only hope that she hangs on to the rawer blues/rock influences that drove the (really impressive, I thought) Rose Album

Finally, some Sazerac

For a while now, I've been wanting to get my hands on the Sazerac-label rye, a six-year-old item that seems to be a standard-bearer among ryes. Presumably it has something to do with the glorious Sazerac cocktail, made with rye, absinthe, and bitters. I was in the city today, so I dropped by Cask, the spirits store that's an offshoot of Bourbon & Branch, and picked up a bottle.

My usual rye is the Wild Turkey 101, which packs quite a bit more heat than the 90-proof Sazerac does. I'm sipping my way through a bit right now, and it's taken some sips to recalibrate my mouth's expectations. So far, I can say that the Sazerac is a complicated dram: beautiful aroma, astringency in the mouth that becomes tender sweetness, and a pleasant lingering burn down the throat. (Very tsundere.)

I was in the city to see the dentist, got a filling replaced and whatnot, so my cheek was numb for quite a few hours. I walked up to City Lights Books, read through a few things. First time I've been there, but it felt just like other quirky bookstores in the Bay Area. I read a bit of Kenzaburo Oe's A Personal Matter, which I'll have to find some time to read in its entirety. Then I looked through James Gleick's Faster, which had a riveting opening but seemed to run out of steam. Then Ross Duffin's polemic about equal temperament caught my eye, and I flipped through his arguments about how ET is not always the best, and how various other tuning systems have gone in and out of favor through history. I ended up taking home James Gleick's Chaos, and the All Over Coffee book, which I've been meaning to obtain ever since it came out.

If you're ever in the SF Financial District for lunch, you should go to Muracci's, which makes the best tonkatsu I've ever tasted. I had it for lunch today, and just thinking about it makes me salivate for more.