'What's with all the hoopla?' is a new series I'm starting where I do some quick analysis on albums old and new that I feel are conversation generators. The inspiration came from writing exercises where I take track-by-track notes on an album, summarize my thoughts in a journal entry and write a script meant for short voice tweets. The written portion below is the script. Use the link to go the Tweet. I'd love to hear your own thoughts and have a conversation about these albums I'll be thinking about critically!
A Japanese Horror Film is a highly conceptual album by Chester Watson that captures the haze of moving through life staying high with the narrative tension of a horror film. The production through the project reminds me of Japanese producer Nujabes, but sort of flipped on its head. Where Nujabes would have bright flutes and upbeat tempos, Watson's instrumentals are fogy and drifting. It perfectly matches the emcee's other monicker as "The Monotone Samurai." As the album title suggests, the sounds are inspired by Japanese horror, which usually revolves around death or lingering spirits corrupted with vengeance called yokai.
The narrative of the film is a little abstract but I think it's meant to be a bit confusing and interlaced with bars that clearly reference Watson's real life, and particularly his heavy use of psychedelics, within the film's narrative. The opener, "Life Wrote It Itself," kicks things off by imparting the wisdom that our lives are already a story beyond our control and our actions are just the vehicle that moves the narrative along. It's an attitude that permeates a lot of the project as Watson the character raps steady and monotone, unperturbed through the events that take place. At the beginning of the story he's poisoned by a vengeful yokai and must seek help from other spirits, mainly through astral projection that takes him through the underwater city of Atlantis.
The spirits he encounters often express concern for his condition but he remains relatively unfazed. This could be do to the fogginess brought on by the poison, but Watson raps in a way that his real life bleeds through. On "Fog" he admits that constantly staying high has carried the film's hazy surrealism of moving in and out of reality into his real life. While he clearly feels that he reaches another plain of existence, or deeper understanding of the world, the knowledge feels like a burden and he stays high to maintain a certain level of apathy.