FLIPPER'S GUITAR

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About FLIPPER'S GUITAR

Formed in 1989 by Oyamada Keigo and Ozawa Kenji out of the remains of their previous group Lollypop Sonic, Tokyo indie pop duo Flipper's Guitar were largely responsible for instigating the magpie-like trend of influence-hunting that came to characterize so much Japanese indie music of the '90s. Wearing the influence of '80s British guitar pop on their sleeves with such song titles as "Haircut 100" and "Goodbye, Our Pastels Badges," Flipper's Guitar also acknowledged the influence of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, as well as borrowing from retro lounge music, jazz, and the indie/dance fusion at that time making waves in the U.K.

The band's 1989 debut, Three Cheers for Our Side!, was at heart a comparatively straightforward guitar pop album, albeit a musically literate one, but the following year's Camera Talk found them expanding their musical palette, and demonstrated the duo's rapidly improving skills as producers. 1991's Doctor's Head's World Tower was another leap forward, with an increased use of sampling and the obvious influence of groups like Primal Scream and the Happy Mondays giving the album a tripped-out dance groove. Nevertheless, Flipper's Guitar weren't interested in the drug-fueled hedonism of their U.K. contemporaries, and the single "Dolphin Song," with its cut-and-paste construction and marriage of samples from the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" to Eyeless in Gaza's "Changing Stations," indicated that the group's musical future lay elsewhere. Flipper's Guitar was to end soon after, with the group's disbandment in 1993, and no further albums of new material released. Their influence didn't stop there, though, with Ozawa enjoying immediate success as a solo musician, and Oyamada going on to become one of Japan's hippest cultural exports with his work under the pseudonym Cornelius. Flipper's Guitar's legacy also continued to influence Japanese music, inspiring a generation of musicians with similarly eclectic tastes, which would eventually be called the "Shibuya-kei" or "Shibuya style" movement, with Oyamada's Trattoria label a key gathering place for these bands.

In 2004, a second generation of musicians produced a document of their admiration for the duo in a two-volume tribute album on indie label Softly! Records, featuring such "Neo-Shibuya-kei" musicians as the Aprils, Eel, and Hazel Nuts Chocolate. ~ Ian Martin

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