[HOT TRACK]Deejay makes Deeelite-ful Korean debut ... finallyNo one could accuse the deejay Towa Tei of being one-dimensional -- he was born in Tokyo, made his debut in New York and has Korean blood in his veins. And his music is as manifold as his resume.
He went to New York to study design art at Parsons School of Design in 1987, but ended up being one of the leading figures of the worldwide techno and electronic music scene.
It is through the early-1990s band Deeelite that most people recognize his odd name (Towa Tei, by the way, is the Japanese pronunciation of his Korean name, Jeong Dong-hwa). Deeelite's club anthem "Groove Is in the Heart" was catchy, groovy and genre-defying. Towa Tei has continued that style in his solo music.
Towa Tei's first solo release was his "Future Listening" in 1995. The debut brought him both popularity and acclaim for mixing bossa nova and electronic sounds. Unfortunately, that album was never released in Korea.
But finally, Towa Tei has arrived on the Korean music scene, with "Sweet Robots Against the Machine 2 : Towa Tei." And as this reviewer observed first-hand, the album is already out of stock at the major downtown music stores.
Towa Tei enjoys being on the experimental frontier of the music scene. He says "Everything we do is music," and it shows in his compositions, which mix jazz, disco, soul and electronic techno.
"Sweet Robot" continues that style over its 13 new tracks. Towa Tei spent so much time so closely tied to his computers and recording devices that he called it "having sex with audio," thus giving rise to the opening track "Audio Sex."
The second track, "Free," a remake of a song by Dennis Williams, is an exciting two-beat number. "Latte and Macaron" is notable in that its rhythm was designed for Sony's robot dog Aibo to dance to.
But the best track on the album is the 11th, "At the End of a Love Affair," in which the standard jazz number is reborn as chic techno. A far cry from the gloom of Billie Holiday's version, Towa Tei's rendition is instead built on the upbeat voice of Lorez Alexandria.
All in all, Towa Tei's mixes and arrangements are elating. He calls this album "girlish electronica," meaning it emphasizes the sweet and cute.
by Chun Su-jin