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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

Seiho launches Day Tripper label with 'Mercury'

Special to The Japan Times

OSAKA — Seiho Hayakawa started making music the way a lot of curious kids growing up in the digital age did — by fiddling with his cell-phone ringer. But he eventually plunged headfirst into the world of jazz as a high school student, with a trumpet at his side.

News photo
Cosmic guy: Seiho Hayakawa performs at a recent Innit party in Osaka. The artist launched his own label to release his debut album, "Mercury."

Those early experiences stuck with Hayakawa, 24, who now records under his given name. He produces electronic music of many moods, from thumping hip-hop-inspired fare to jazz-tinged chill-outs. This blend of dance music and jazz has made Hayakawa one of the most intriguing artists in a burgeoning Kansai electronic scene, highlighted by his debut album, "Mercury."

Released on Hayakawa's own Day Tripper label, "Mercury" rockets from idea to idea. It opens with the relaxing and smooth "Previous Night," but soon shifts to hard-thumping beats on "Pool." Whether Hayakawa is leaning on jazz-standard instrumentation (stand-up bass) or digital "blips," "Mercury" remains a compelling listen.

" 'Mercury' was based on the story of a space trip," Hayakawa says. This cosmic vibe and manic pace brings to mind Flying Lotus, while the pitch-shifted vocals on some tracks recall early James Blake. Hayakawa says both those electronic artists are influences, but says "Mercury" also owes a debt to the likes of jazz musicians Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman.

This mashup of genres has cemented Hayakawa as one of the up-and-comers of Osaka's experimental electronic-music scene. Along with Masayuki Kubo (aka And Vice Versa), he helped found the Innit crew events. Late last year Hayakawa launched his Day Tripper Records to make his music feel "physical." Besides "Mercury," Hayakawa plans on releasing music from other Innit-related artists in 2012.

Hayakawa also hopes to focus on his other musical project, the pop-leaning Sugar's Campaign. Alongside fellow Innit staple Takuma Hosokawa (who records as Avec Avec) and two others. Hayakawa says the group "would like to belong to a major label," in order to make "true pop music" in the vein of older J-pop acts such as Tatsuro Yamashita and Toshinobu Kubota.

When Hayakawa speaks it seems the sky's the limit, and for now he's made it to "Mercury." If the Innit gang can keep it up, 2012 will be a good year for Osaka indeed.

Seiho's "Mercury" is on sale at record stores now. For more information, visit www.daytripperrecords.com.

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