T.V. Jesus

In the mid-90s, Konishi Yasuharu (小西 康陽), at the apex of his imperial period, began spreading himself further and further afield, working in various genres and sowing the seeds for what would eventually become his own label, Readymade Records, which he launched in 1997.

I'm going to explore some of his other works, many of which have been lost to time and lack of translation, both into English and digital formats. As so much of this music only ever existed on CD—and was only ever packaged in Japanese text—it's difficult to track down, let alone be aware of. The man was obscenely prolific, however, and I'd like to spend a little time shining light on the efforts he made outside of his flagship project, Pizzicato Five (ピチカート・ファイヴ, P5).

And we shall begin with T.V. Jesus, a duo comprised of Masumi Arichika (有近真澄) and Rieko Teramoto (寺本りえ子).

If P5 was primarily an exploration of the past through jazzy pop, Burt Bacharach ballads, space-age lounge, rendered in polarly-opposed palettes—soft pastels, gentle and intimate, or bright neons, biting and intense—then T.V. Jesus was the same journey, but with fuzzier and greasier guitars and live drums, a glam-rock corollary to Konishi and Maki Nomiya's (野宮 真貴) union.

Arichika first worked with Yasuharu on a solo album, one of his earliest, Menoto (女の都City of Women), which was released in 1994, and it's my suspicion that this collaboration led to Konishi's efforts with T.V. Jesus. (That album was lovely, though I cannot find a single blip that's publicly online. It's similar to the previous LP, TRUEBLUE, in that it's all breakbeat and trip-hop beats, but with Yasuharu on production, a smoother side is revealed, like a Joe Jackson album reimagined with drum machines.)
Rieko, on the other hand, was recording solo as Transistor Glamour (トランジスタ・グラマー), the name of an old Sony portable radio. (And not to be confused with a duo of the same name.)

Her music had heart and charm, despite sometimes sounding as if it came off a J-pop assembly line, essentially karaoke backing tracks (lively and unusual as they may have been) with vocals laid atop. Tracks like "Fantasy" (「ファンタジー」) indicate such promise—a talented singer with a supple, calm voice, water through fine cloth.