heard on the wire

Let’s be quick before it melts

A song-from-each-year-of-my-life for 2002 should be an easy choice; this was the year that Cinerama released the LP I consider to be almost the greatest ever made.

Only Joy Division’s Closer keeps Torino out of the top spot — and rightly so, says The Guardian’s Dave Simpson.

But to choose a single track from Torino, as I did before, seems unfair on the others. It would be a random pick, a shuffle, rather than a carefully considered choice.

And why not look elsewhere? After all 2002 has so much to offer: a great EP and LP, A Guide For The Daylight Hours, from Ballboy; Half Man Half Biscuit’s Cammell Laird Social Club; and Laura Cantrell’s country masterpiece, When the Roses Bloom Again; plus fine LPs from Helen Love (Radio Hits 3), Gene (Libertine) and the last great New Order single, Here To Stay and its b-side, Player in the League.

My choice, however, is from Japan.

Asa Chang and Junray is the band of the Japanese percussionist Asa Chang, who was the founder and original bandmaster of Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. After leaving that group in 1993, he formed Asa Chang and Junray in 1998 with programmer and guitarist Hidehiko Urayama. They were joined in 2000 by tabla player U-zhaan. Live, the group use a portable sound system called Jun-Ray Tronics, hence the name — although the word ‘junray’ also means pilgrimage.¹

Much played by John Peel, this is an astonishing record the like of which I’d never heard before and haven’t since.

Asa Chang and Junray :: Hana

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¹ Wikipedia: Asa-Chang & Junray

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