Hirasawa Susumu is perhaps best known to the west as the man behind the brilliant soundtrack to the 2006 animated film Paprika, but he is oh-so-much more than just that.
Beginning his long and varied major music career in 1979 with his aggressive, new-wave punk adjacent and ground breaking band P-Model, Susumu has always been at the cutting edge of not just music, but of media and its delivery throughout his career. In the 90’s P-Model shifted gears towards experimental post-punk electronic before it was a cool thing to do, and Susumu created the soundtrack to a series of timeless animated classics (the aforementioned Paprika, Berserk and Millennium Actress just to name a few). He was also a very early adopter of digital distribution for his music, by many accounts the first artist to do so in Japan. On top of that, the man is an outspoken vegetarian, strong proponent of alternative and Eastern medicine, and frequently speaks at length on various esoteric religious practices and beliefs. In short, he is a very interesting man. His recent performances have been pushing the envelope even further.
Since way back in his career, Susumu has always been interested not only in the music, but the delivery and performance of it as well. Solo album releases of his are always accompanied with multi-media spectaculars, usually involving audience participation. He is never short on ideas, and always brings something new to the table with his shows.
His Fuji Rock performance this year sees him back on the stage with EJIN, revisiting their memorable 2019 Red Marquee performance. EJIN is the moniker of his two frequent collaborators SSHO and Tazz, whom he claims are descended from a more advanced sub-species of human than man. The fact that they usually perform black-shrouded and in large crane-like plague masks makes this claim strangely believable, not to mention their preternatural musical chops.
If history is any indicator, his Fuji Rock show this year will be, at the very least, unforgettable. In 2019 his favored instrument was a soundboard triggered by plucking green lasers beamed through the air (don’t ask to have it described any better) and even playing a lightning-bolt throwing Tesla coil as an instrument, with bird masked and haunting EJIN accompanying.
In a word, the music is great, the man is a visionary and the performances are mind-bendingly creative. Do not, I repeat, do not sleep on his Sunday night White Stage performance. Perfect way to close out the festival, and rest assured you won’t soon forget the spectacle or the music (in equal measure).