Clear And Refreshing is a dumping ground for thoughts, reviews and links related to music in Japan. My name’s Ian Martin and I’m a British expatriate living in Tokyo. The name of the blog was taken by my girlfriend (now wife) from the side of a can of chu-hi in 2003 and has stuck ever since, despite my constant worries that it sounds tremendously arrogant and hopelessly inaccurate in view of my convoluted writing style.
I get a lot of messages from overseas bands asking me to write about them, so I should make it clear at this point that this blog is exclusively about Japanese music and the music scene in Japan. I sincerely wish your bands all the best, but I don’t take requests.
I write the Strange Boutique column for The Japan Times, as well as various other music related articles, interviews and reviews. I also run a postpunk/new wave label called Call And Response Records, help organise a monthly DJ party in Koenji called Fashion Crisis, put on various live events, mostly in Tokyo but also sometimes in Fukuoka, and occasionally help out with bands’ tours, especially in the Tokyo and Kyushu areas.
Through my label, I’ve released the bands Hyacca from Fukuoka, Zibanchinka from Kagoshima, Mir and Praha Depart from Tokyo, and N’toko from Slovenia, so anything I say about these artists on the pages of this blog will be coloured by the enormous, planet-engulfing love I have for them. Other than that, I have a deep love for new wave and postpunk, as well as various species of psychedelia, Krautrock, technopop, indie, synthpop, industrial, avant-garde, and bubblegum, plus whatever else floats across my radar. I have no time for the sort of dippy nitwits who get upset by subjective criticism and analysis of music they like, but I welcome comments, criticisms and corrections of my own writing, and promise to respond with the minimum possible sarcasm.
In addition to my own posts, my friend and collaborator Ryotaro Aoki, with whom I make the Quit Your Band! Japanese indie zine and who blogs at Don’t Cross The Streams, will sometimes make appearances as a guest contributor.