Natural Calamity


Shunji Mori (森 俊二) is a laid-back dude.

Starting in the early 90s, or maybe some point in the 80s, he began releasing his fluffy-little-cloud grooves into the breeze, both alone and in various group configurations. The ensemble I'm focusing on here is Natural Calamity, but Group of Gods (bold name), which came later, is also excellent, and I've embedded an album of theirs at the bottom of this post.

Even though the Shibuya-kei sound was quite nebulous and all over the place—it's a state of mind, man; it's a feeling, man—I wouldn't say his music fits into it, or is even adjacent to it. It's just too subdued and relaxed, and it doesn't have a twist of kitsch or irony, at least not in the Bacharach-obsessed and Gainsbourg-devoted way that Pizzicato Five was, that Cornelius was, that Fantastic Plastic Machine was.
That said, he, like the aforementioned three, did get the attention of certain crate-diggers and Japanophiles in the West. In his case, most notably the Dust Brothers, who distributed his late-90s LP, Peach Head, on their home turf, and also did some remix work for the guy.

Supreme, sublime mellowness, an intersection of 90s flea-market beat-maker mischief, 60s exotica revival, and W. Coast hip-hop cool in the mode of, for example, Money Mark. Huh—maybe that is Shibuya-kei.