let's find a place / a happy place
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Shena Ringo - "Stem (daimyou asobi hen)". Absolutely breathtaking j-pop - as exciting as sound as it is enthralling as music. A tour de force, for real. It opens with a slow zoom in, a plummy bass pointing out blurred lights and staggering greysuited men. Shena begins with some of Britney's threatening sultriness before bounding up into the clouds with a poise and play that recall Leslie Feist. She's sexy and genuine, a lilac voice amidst the tune's marvellous baroque glitch production. The track is astounding - from the joy and push of Shena's delivery to the remarkable arrangement. It's some kind of chamber pop, sure, but the depth and variety of it blows my mind. This isn't just the typical alt.rock move ("let's throw in some strings!"): there's several different movements, entirely different aesthetics. The Nigel Godrich visit to the orchestra is soon overwhelmed by reassuring strokes of strings, then a cold dip into piano scales and jerky staccato marching. We stumble through drumrolls, a pumping ascent, and suddenly we're smack in the middle of crashbanging electric drums and bass. And the cellos/violins are still there, singing forward like wave after wave of marauding seabirds. This is the main theme from Shena Ringo's 2003 film, Tanpen Kinema Hyakuiro Megane - but the official single seems to be the considerably inferior, cheesed-out English-language version.

Vincent Gallo - "Laura". It's not raining tonight, but I feel like it should be. A thin, bleak drizzle. Since listening and listening to the Vincent Gallo/PJ Harvey/John Frusciante "Moon River", I've dug deeper into Gallo's musical work and am enjoying the hell out of When. Woebot was right when he commented that Gallo's fulfilling some of the promises that Badly Drawn Boy gave up on after his initial EPs. While there's much to say for the pop that Damon brought to this sort of shambling disintegration, Gallo's done him one better with his mastery of atmosphere in these slack, earnest indie folk songs; it's a loose and drear sound to drown your melancholy in. "Laura" is a lovely song. A strummed and almost meaningless guitar goes on unending under Gallo's plaintive call: "Laura, Laura, come back." A bassline drips, catches the light. The Velvet Underground on a night when it's raining. Thin, bleak drizzle.

Thanks for listening, and for your comments. See you Monday.

Posted by Sean at April 30, 2004 12:54 AM

That Shena Ringo song is one of the greatest things I have ever ever heard.

Posted by JetSetAlex at April 30, 2004 9:42 AM

Isn't it?!!!

Posted by Sean at April 30, 2004 10:02 AM

yeah I once downloaded Gallo's music on a whim. Found out I really liked it. To think that such a bloated pretentious twat could come up with something like this is quite amazing..

Posted by whitebabiesforsale at April 30, 2004 1:47 PM

"when" is one of the great records.
you can't put a date on it. could be the sixties, seventies etc...considering VG played all instruments, recorded, built his studio , it sounds even more amazing.
it's bedroom music at its best (if room is located in john lautner's garcia residence in L.A , it sure helps...)
laura is a timeless favorite.

shena ringo... i'm sure this one 's gonna grow
on me. you mentioned leslie feist. let it die/what a great album don't you think?

Posted by thebeathunters at April 30, 2004 6:04 PM

well, link to moon river is dead...
too bad i did'nt catch this one!
(please baby baby baby pleaaase!)

Posted by thebeathunters at April 30, 2004 6:05 PM

Hearing that Shena Ringo has justified my existence for the day. Incredible! I demand more! Thank you!

Posted by Bradley at April 30, 2004 8:03 PM

Thanks to you for posting Stem! Awesome. I second Bradley's suggestion (:

Posted by petrol at May 1, 2004 4:48 AM

it's funny - you almost never hear "breathtaking" and "j-pop" in the same sentance, but I think you're right with this track. keep an eye on robots in the next week - I've been thinking about digging down into my collection from Osaka. and throwing in some choice Utada Hikaru, Ua and Hajime Chitose tracks.

Posted by jp at May 1, 2004 12:18 PM

Gallo's not as much of a "bloated, pretentious twat" as you might think. He seems to behave like a caricature of how you think he is, if that makes sense; a caricature squared. Just read the article on Buddyhead.com:


He's funny.

And the Moon river mp3 will be here for a bit longer if you still want it:


Posted by kieran at May 1, 2004 9:02 PM

i've jumped on the mp3 blogwagon, thanks for the inspiration... 'said the gramophone' is consistantly my favorite, and so, if you're interested listen closer

Posted by justin why at May 2, 2004 8:53 AM

I gotta say, i'm not really impressed by the vincent gallo track. it does have an ok atmosphere as you say, but that's about it. you say the guitar is meaninless, i agree. and so are the lyrics. and the bass's not that great either. he's got a nice voice, but that's about it. to me it seems like a track that anyone with a mic could record...regardless of talent.

you in O-town at all this summer? i'll be there may10

Posted by smackm at May 2, 2004 1:42 PM

well, that VG interview is something...
i've been reading some other texts of his and it's always fun and witty.
thanks kieran for the moon river track.
is there other material from this live gig around?
just to piss VG you know...

to smackm:
in fact, you'd better hear that track with the rest of the album, which builds up strangely from
some kind of abstract downtempo electrofolk into very simple skinny tracks like laura... there's no virtuosity here for sure, but there's something going on, a vibe that grows on you and make you press that repeat button for days...

Posted by thebeathunters at May 2, 2004 6:03 PM

The whole gig was briefly on drowninginbrown.com but they took it down after a few days.. I might be able to host it sometime in the future, but I'm quite busy with exams coming up at the moment and getting files on to my uni webspace is a remarkably tedious and lengthy process.. I'll send you an e-mail when I get round to it though.


Posted by kieran at May 2, 2004 7:44 PM

wow, that shena ringo is great.

speaking of gallo, anyone know if the film "brown bunny" is ever going to hit theatres (after being called the worst film in cannes history, no les...)??

anyways, I really like the site.

Posted by lusitania dupree at May 3, 2004 3:08 AM

Please listen to my Beach Boys "God Only Knows" Cover and some songs of my own here http://www.velvetrockmine.com.ar/mp3/sebastian_kramer-god_only_knows-beach_boys_cover.mp3


Posted by Anonymous at May 3, 2004 11:56 AM

fuck, that j-pop song is gooooooooood. Crazy.

Oh, and that beach boys' kid has been posting all over our blogs these days. No idea who he is, but the song ain't that good. He's banned from our site.

Posted by music robot mark at May 3, 2004 6:13 PM

That Shena Ringo track sounds... more like a rocked-out ALI Project than Shena Ringo's usual run. Though that's not bad by any means, just odd.

Posted by Sabina at May 4, 2004 11:30 AM

I spent my childhood in Japan and Shena Ringo's first album is one of the most perfect albums ever. She is pure genius. You should also check out the song she wrote for Rie Tomosaka called "Capuccino." I used to be obsessed with that song.

Posted by Ashley at May 5, 2004 1:27 PM

A translation of the lyrics to English is available here; and a midi version of Stem for those who like that kinda stuff (:

Posted by petrol at May 9, 2004 3:13 PM

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about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

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Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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