MONO Magazine

Mono Logo

Written and published in Japan, Mono is a pop culture document par excellence. Evidently aimed at men, it focuses on a variety of subjects, although predominantly features food, vehicles, fashion and technology with a slight emphasis – least in the issues I have seen – towards military history and its accoutrements.

Watch CoverUSA Cover

Articles have included the history of Japanese technology between the 1970s and 1990s, World War II bomber jacket designs, hand luggage and camping gear reviews and history of smugglers cars, whilst recurring features include convenience store food reviews and watch and shoe release updates.

Hand Luggage

Luggage Reviews.  Photo by author.

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Convenience Store Food Reviews.  Photo by author.

Bikes

Motorcycle Reviews.  Photo by author.

Smugglers Cars

Analysis of bootlegger smuggling.  Photo by author.

Their authors tend to analyse the less covered segments of these common areas too. For example, in their USA Issue, they travel to the Mexico / USA border and speak with border patrol guards and check out dive bars in Juarez. When they look at shoes, it’s what’s on the feet of tech nerds or the best 1980s jogging shoe. If it’s watches, they ignore the Swiss and instead turn their attention 1970s Tokyo time pieces or Timex and low grade military watches.

USA Article USA Border2

USA Issue.  Photo by author.

Nerd Sneakers

Tech Company CEO Footwear Analysis.  Photo by author.

80s Sneakers

1980s – 1990s Jogging Shoe Analysis.  Photo by author.

70s Japanese Watches

Japanese Watches of the 1970s.  Photo by author.

Sadly, as my Japanese is poor, the virtue or lack thereof of the writing is impossible to analyse, but it is incredibly photo heavy and its attention to detail is on par with a variety of Japanese periodicals which seem to focus on the minutiae of their topics with an autism like focus.

Jeep Timex  WWII Bomber Jackets

Various Articles.  Photos by author.

Through their own shop, advertised in the back pages, they also sell many items such as authentic Vietnam issued Zippos, C-rations, military styled patches, pens, watches and various other items.

Vietnam Zippos Military Patches

Example Items Available Through Their Mail Order Shop.  Photo by author.

Freely available in many bookstores and libraries in Japan, it’s worth picking up and always entertaining.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

LINKS: http://www.monomagazine.com/

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2014 – The Future is Here Part I

So this confused decade is almost halfway done and finally a musical and stylistic identity begins to emerge. Pretty much just like the last decade took a while to get into its stride too. In the last few months there’s been an abundance of releases which have really started to deliver on the promise of 2013 and that Logos album. More importantly, most of these releases are by artists that I hadn’t even heard of 12 – 18 months ago.  There’s a real feel of a new generation emerging, and some of the giants of the ’04 – ’09 era are starting to look like dinosaurs to me.

More importantly, I feel like there’s been one of those rare foot-centric seismic shifts that truly mark an era changing: yes I’m talking about the eternal swing of the pendulum from Nike to Adidas and back again.

The last time I felt an era-change – the middle of last decade when it was clear that dubstep was going to explode – was also the last time that I felt the pendulum swing from Nike to Adidas. The early part of the decade had been all about the Air Force 1 and, somewhat embarrassingly, the Bape Sta.  Then about the time of Dubstap Warz, I moved under the influence of casual culture and began a massive reappraisal of, shall we say, the more “European” end of Adidas. I spurned the obvious styles like the Shell Toe to begin an almost decade-long excavation of models like the Forest Hills, the Trimm-Tabb and the Munchen.

Now while I still adore those styles (in the overall pantheon of trainer greatness, will the Forest Hills ever be bettered?), I’ve slowly started to wake up to the painful reality that while those models were absolutely cutting-edge technology in their day, Adidas doesn’t really produce much in the way of exciting new trainers now.  In fact many of them are downright ugly, and the whole Adidas Originals schtick of continually re-releasing the golden designs of the early to mid-80s is wearing a bit thin.

Now on the other hand with Nike, the ubiquity of the Air Force 1 was putting me to sleep by the middle of last decade. And yet I now have to admit that it’s Nike and not Adidas that is making some new  trainers that you would both actually want to wear and that somehow capture the zeitgeist.

With the release of the Free Flyknit 4.0 Nike have released what I believe will be one of the defining trainer silhouettes of this era. Mixing the Nike Free sole and the Nike Flyknit upper, they combine two iconic pieces of Nike technology that left Adidas far behind. Stylishly blending form and function for a look that manages to stand out as new even after 40 years of modern trainer design, I haven’t been this excited about a new trainer since…well since I started collecting trainers.

Nike

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And it’s not just shoes where Nike are now winning the arms race. NSW keeps kicking goals with lines like the Gkyakusou running range, the collaborations with FFF and FCRB.  When was the last time you wanted to actually wear a piece of clothing from Adidas that wasn’t a classic item dating back from the 70s?

And so in a roundabout way, I come to music. As I said, the last few months have seen a whole exciting new generation of producers break through (or maybe I only just recognised that they are breaking through). I’ve spent a whole lot of time recently listening both to these new producers and to recent releases by some of my heroes of the 00s. In my next post I’ll deal with the producers that really excite me now, but first some thoughts about two of my old favorites: Hyperdub Records and The Bug.

The inescapable conclusion when listening to the recent Hyperdub 10 series of albums is that this once untouchable label is having a bit of an Adidas moment: iconic and era-defining in its glory day, but now distinctly bloated and tired. Was there really a need for an interminable series of compilation albums to celebrate the 10th anniversary? Why sign so many tedious American producers? What was once a lean and  focused operation now seems like a less-interesting Warp records wannabe. I shan’t listen to any of the Hyperdub compilations more than once, and have almost zero interest and curiosity about what Hyperdub might put out next.

bug

The Angels and Devils album by The Bug is, on the other hand, something I have listened to many times over the past few weeks. By my reckoning I’ve been following Kevin Martin a.k.a The Bug’s various projects for a ridiculous 22 YEARS, ie: longer than many of his current fans have been alive. His musical evolution has paralleled my own tastes in many ways, or perhaps even shaped them.

But while Angels and Devils probably has a lot more listening in it for me, I’m already clear that it’s just a further refinement of what he’s been doing for the last 15 years at least. Yes it may be his best single cohesive album to date but there is no shock of the new here, nothing that makes it feel like it actually helps define this moment in time the way London Zoo did in 2008 or indeed the way his masterful compiling of the Virgin Ambient series did in the mid-90s.  Somehow Angels and Devils feels like a good late period Neil Young album. Nice to see an elder statesman continuing to craft great albums, but it doesn’t really feel relevant to the era any more.  Still, Fat Mac is probably the single greatest Kevin Martin/Justin Broadrick collaboration to date.

Right then, next time I’ll write about the music that really excites me now.

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Posted by Gunter Sacks

DJ Premier and Pete Rock Gig Review (Melbourne 07/05/2014)

Golden era hip hop seems to be passing through Melbourne of late. I caught several Ninja Tune producers deconstruct/remake ‘Paul’s Boutique’ in its entirety at the Prince of Wales at the end of February, saw Public Enemy (with S1W’s to boot) do a high energy greatest hits show in early March, and the other night I was lucky enough to catch two of the greatest producers ever to grace the game, DJ Premier and Pete Rock when they DJ’d at the Corner Hotel.

Having missed their original show at 170 Russell Street a few nights previously, I was enormously glad when this extra gig was announced as the opportunity to see these two perform was simply unmissable in my eyes. Due to Rock’s seminal work as one half of Pete Rock and CL Smooth, the work he did for Nas, his superlative version of ‘Shut ‘Em Down’, ‘Fakin Jax’ and my personal favourite 2003’s ‘Petestrumentals’ album which contains the best (and least obvious) flip of James Brown’s ‘The Boss’ that I know of.

DJ Premier as the beat maker for Gangstarr created some of the most identifiable and indelible hip hop tunes of the 1990s with all the duo’s albums essentially becoming classics. Never resting, he went onto an incredibly high level solo career making beats for Biggie Smalls (such as ‘Kick in the Door’ and ‘Unbelievable’), Group Home, Nas and Jeru’s best work (Wrath of the Maths’ and ‘The Sun Rises in the East’) amongst others.

Both producers seem a perfect match for collaboration given their background as the musical halves of successful partnerships, their noticeable Jazz leanings and place within the hip hop pantheon. Certainly their musical knowledge can’t be faulted and given their record collections and sample savvy, a live performance was never going to be anything other than great.

Upon their arrival on the stage, Premier announced that everything they were about to play would be ‘real’, whether we liked it or not and using what appeared to be two Apple MacBooks, some 1200s and a copy of Serato, they started with a Run DMC medley including King of Rock, Beats to the Rhyme, My Adidas and a wicked ‘Peter Piper’ cut-up before moving on to well known tunes that they either liked or had a hand in creating.

There was a fantastic Stevie Wonder section in which they played a variety up of his hits to celebrate his forthcoming birthday and a lengthy Jay Dilla tribute which featured a lot of his stuff from Doughnuts and the Electric Circus era with a smattering of instrumental Pharcyde as well.

They broke it down and re-built from the basics by literally re-starting with the break from Funky Drummer and launching into a ill James Brown segment which thankfully included my favourite James Brown (or Fred Wesley) cut ‘Blind Man Can See It’ from the Black Caesar OST, flipping that into Das FX’s ‘They Want FX’. This then segued into what all beat minded hip hop heads want, which was about an hour of sample sources mixed into the tunes that sampled them… Such as Eric Burdon mixed into Pot Holes in my Lawn, ‘As Long as I’ve Got You’ by The Charmels blended into Cream by Wu-Tang, L’il’ Ghetto Boy into, um… Lil’ Ghetto Boy, and Herbie Hancock’s ‘Jessica’ into Shook Ones Pt II to rousing effect.

Both were on the mic throughout the gig exhorting the crowd to ‘say ho’, ‘yell Premo’, ‘clap your hands’ and so on a’ la old school block parties and the crowd happily rose to the challenge and attempted to follow all commands including throwing Wu Tang ‘W’ hand shapes during the Cream / Charmels mix and imitating Stevie Wonder’s distinctive head rolls during the Wonder birthday tribute at Premier’s behest.

Premier and Pete Rock shared cutting and scratching duties equally, with Rock being the better scratcher in this author’s opinion. They also worked together for big scratching effects, notably transforming two parts of a big uplifter that lead into a new segment at one point and giving each other side eye and congratulatory half smiles when they successfully pulled it off. Premier stated that, he couldn’t rap, but ‘Pete Rock can rhyme’. And to illustrate this fact, Rock took his mic off the stand for awhile and threw down while Premier stayed behind the decks providing the background for his flows.

Before the evening was over, I got to hear Premier yelling most of the lines to my favourite Gangstarr track, ‘Just to Get A Rep’, whilst Rock cut it up in the background and the two and a bit hour set concluded with Rock humming the melody for ‘They Reminisce Over You’ into the mic while Premier mixed in the name sake anthem for a barn storming closer.

According to other people who had seen their previous show a few nights before, they varied the set a fair bit, excising Nas sections in favour of Dilla and generally ensuring they didn’t play the same stuff twice. They were also good enough to hang around afterwards sign stuff and pose for photos and all in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better gig. It’s rare nowadays that something like this meets my expectations. This not only met them, it vastly exceeded them. To paraphrase Rakim, these guys know how to move a crowd and I would highly recommend catching them if they ever come to your town.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Also see earlier post: https://theeasternterraces.wordpress.com/tag/gangstarr/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.