Thursday, 13 December 2007

電波 101: 電波への紹介 - Introduction to denpa

So, here you find yourself on a blog called Denpa no Sekai (電波の世界 or World of Denpa) but you have no idea what it means? Gotcha. First of all, "denpa" itself is a Japanese word meaning "radio waves" but these days, it is specifically used to describe a relatively new genre of music emerging quasi-exclusively from Japan. I say quasi, but I have never heard about denpa artists outside of Japan, who knows what the future will bring? To make things more complicated, denpa itself is only one of the synonyms that can be used to describe this perticular genre: gamewave, chiptune, bitpop, akibapop and to a certain extent, JPop, can be used interchangibly.

Now what's so special about denpa? There are various aspects about the genre which will attract people from all walks of life:
  • Denpa is mainly performed by Japanese artists. To some people, that's an instant sell.
  • Denpa is deeply rooted in the anime scene, songs are often used as opening/closing tracks.
  • There is a strong connection to gaming, with sound FX from classic games frequently used as beats and instruments. Denpa is also closely associated with eroge, or "erotic games".
  • The genre is incredibly happy-go-lucky and morally uplifting.
  • Akin to punk and hardcore music, denpa is "by the fans, for the fans". No generic mainstream regurgited music here.
  • Despite a very strong DIY aura around denpa, production values are fairly high.
  • Basically it should be a soundtrack to every otaku's life!
Make no mistake, denpa will probably offend more people than it will entice:
  • High pitched female voices can be a little nerve grating.
  • BPM ranges from mid tempo to extremely rapid (200+).
  • Denpa is the ultimate fodder for weaboo-haters
  • Some of the songs are just nauseatingly cute/horrid (depending on your perspective!)
Obviously the genre's relative obscurity also works against it in more ways than one. It's very hard to keep track of artists as their careers are often short-lived and their releases just about impossible to procure outside of being in the right place at the right time. Luckily for denpa fans, most of the material is fairly easy to obtain on teh internets, be it from torrents or IRC.

I hope this has been sufficient for an introduction, but I understand that by now you probably still don't have a clear idea of what denpa sounds like. Here is a quick sample from current denpa overlords, MOSAIC.WAV. Remember that name! If the sample doesn't completely disgust you, then stick around as I review existing albums, build artist profiles and provide you with the latest news concerning the wonderful world of denpa!


DMC said...

I'm liking the premise of this blog. Next time somebody on my blog asks what denpa means despite my posting a definition of the genre some 5 or so times, I'll just link them to this post. (Webmaster of 愛撫-I’ve Sound Blog-, by the way, just using a different ID because I'm too lazy to sign up a separate Blogspot ID. Also, before you ask I found this page through referrer tracking. Isn't the internet wonderful?)

ScPpY said...

That's a pretty good introduction, yes. I barely no anything about Denpa itself except that it associates with those songs that are insanely cute, and squeaky high (and for the most part, are from eroge), so this post was enlightening.