Ken Ishii is a Japanese techno and house producer and DJ. He has worked with Inner City, Wreckage, Inc, Talvin Singh, DJ Spooky, and Co-Fusion, has been remixed by Dave Angel, DJ Q, Afronaught, Boom Boom Satellites, FLR, DJ Zank, Rebus Tape, Si Begg, Tatsuya Oe and probably more as well. His sound has progressed from some very strange experimental beats to his more recent house and acid techno tracks. Surprisingly, his music is a strong example of Detroit-style techno and it turns out he started recording for Canadian and European labels long before a Japanese techno label even existed. He has recorded on the Exceptional, Reel Musiq, Apollo, Sublime, R&S, Sony, +8, and ESP record labels. Ken Ishii also composed the music for the opening ceremonies to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.

After the release of his album Sleeping Madness in 1999, Ishii created a clothing line named Bugged-in Fusion, named after a track on that album. He sells futuristically-themed t-shirts and hats. Ishii has also recently started up his own label, called "70 Drums".

Now before I go listing a whole bunch of data, maybe I should explain a bit more about the guy's sound! Think about your idea of Japanese music. Mix it with technology. Mix that with disco. Now slowly extract the experimental elements and add boogie juice over the course of around 10 years. That's Ken Ishii's career in a nutshell. (Yeah, I sound like something the Brunching Shuttlecocks cooked up. Sue me.)

To be serious, Ken Ishii's early sound is both experimental and dancy. He's been known to take Japanese folk songs and rework them with electronics. Lately, the squeaks and squawks and lush sounds of his early works have given way to a harder beat with less odd percussion and more samples of all kinds of crazy Asian instruments. There were once some notes in poor English on Ishii's website describing the theme of each song on his Sleeping Madness. Dealing with our rapidly changing technological spectrum is one of the top things portrayed in his music, along the collision of cultures brought about by increased ease of communication.

Although he hasn't been spinning out for long, I would (and have) spent entire weekends driving around trying to see this guy play at clubs, and it's always been worth it even just to hear play other people's records. He's done a few live PAs in Japan but America is unfortunately not his highest priority.

    Ishii has a number of pseudonyms. Among them:
  • Flare records for Sublime Records (and sometimes Reel Musiq) and releases more ethereal music. Seems to be retired.
  • FLR records for Reel Musiq, a subsidiary of Sublime, and specializes in noisy hard techno.
  • Utu recorded for Plus 8 a long time ago and some of that work can be found on the Plus 8 Classics compilation.
  • Rising Sun and Yoga which I don't know much about.

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