Lee, well, technically “lee (asano+ryuhei)”, is Japanese electronic and visual artist Ryuhei Asano, originally from Fukuoka and now based out of Bangkok. He’s total Kyushu danji – a Japanese phrase describing and celebrating the unique style of those from Kyushu, the Southern island of Japan and home to some of the most culturally unique aspects that incredible nation has to offer. Lee is a tough act to describe, but one thing is for sure: he’s nutso.
In a phrase, Asano is an eclectic barrage of sounds – a flash-storm collage of old classic-style vocals, drunken string and piano ensembles, sideways drum beats, Japanese infomercials, and field samples of cultural events and strange characters surely known solely to Lee alone. He’s the sound of someone coursing rapidly between tv channels, while another retunes their transistor radio, while their infant child bonks and bangs onto an array of percussion instruments. But somehow the resultant sonic array is a blissed-out, controlled chaos that I find myself drawn to over and over again. It’s pleasant lounging music that can just as easily sustain full attention, where I sing along right up until the realization that I can neither speak Japanese nor hold a note.
Since around 2012, Lee has been releasing a steady stream of music and equally-bizarre album cover art, much of it available for free on his Bandcamp (http://leeeeee.bandcamp.com/) & Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/leeeeeeee). Pictured above are my 2 favourites of his 4 LPs so far this year (!), “TANHÂ” (with frequent collaborator and like-minded space kidet Arμ-2 – http://aru-2.bandcamp.com/) and the brand-new “( u _ u )” (try “ryotaro”: youtu.be/UnnVt60e0IM). Featuring song titles such as “三”, “⌘v” and “●●●●-“, you know you’re in for a fresh experience. And with a unique visual accompaniment for every single song, he’s the devil in the details. Update: just in case 4 releases in one year wasn’t enough, Lee’s gone ahead and dropped a name-your-price hip hop-featuring EP, aptly entitled “55555” (find it at http://leeeeee.bandcamp.com/album/55555; “05. 50g” is a standout). Update II: Leeeeee’s at it again with new EP “めもの” – don’t know what that means, don’t care, too busy listening to it to find out (listen/buy for cheap at https://leeeeee.bandcamp.com/album/–2; try track 8 “わい “).
Favourite track: dukkha (http://leeeeee.bandcamp.com/track/dukkha-2)… Like I said, Kyushu danji.