Clive Tanaka y Su Orquesta – Jet Set Siempre No. 1

written by: January 20, 2011
Clive Tanaka y Su Orquesta - Jet Set Siempre No 1 album cover Release Date: January 11, 2011


It begins with static—the sound of rain falling, hints of stroboscopic synth, the plucking of a bass. A vocoded voice emerges from the sound, “I’ve been watching you babe, all night,” and we’re launched into Jet Set Siempre No. 1; a strange and glamorous romp into disco obsession followed by a slower, contemplative reflection. The album is divided accordingly; four songs are “For Dance,” four “For Romance.”

If you follow the instructions, “All Night, All Right” is the triumphant disco opening. “The way you move you body/It’s just right,” Clive Tanaka—we’ll call him that—seems to be having fun making the music, it’s disarming and lets you enjoy yourself without thinking too hard about it. At times it’s reminiscent of late nineties electronica, acts like Fatboy Slim.  Jet Set Siempre No. 1 carries a euphoric and nostalgic glow, taking on the terrible life machine with childhood innocence.

This is the part of the review where the artist’s actual name, age and history are listed. That’s great except no one knows anything, he seems sworn to secrecy. There’s speculation, given the vocoder, his surname, along with the Japanese URL and characters on his homepage that we’ve been sent these sounds by way of the rising sun. Then again, this holds about as much credence as the album being Daft Punk’s side-project. Clive Tanaka y Su Orquesta has remained incognito in an era of information overexposure.

Released exclusively on cassette this last March, Jet Set Siempre no. 1 has made waves recently with Youtube interpretations of “Neu Chicago.” What that song has to do with Chicago, doesn’t matter. It should be a hit. The lyrics are maddeningly simple and sparse, “Don’t you try to lie/I see the longing in your eyes,” but the effect works, I dare you not to sing along by the end, especially when he drops the vocoder on “That someone is me.” It’s one of these rare pop songs stuck in an indie body. The intention is sweet, rather than ironic.

Side B opens with “Skinjob,” (likely a reference to Blade Runner) with its jazzy bass-line and cool guitar reflections—music to plan a heist to. “The Fourth Magi” begins as a chocolaty seventies love sequence and ends as a hopeful electronic fugue. The apparent namesakes of the songs are as wildly eclectic as the sound they embody.

I would feign say the album’s corny but some of the lines are shamelessly tacky. Then again, so is the band name.  It’s all a little tongue-in-cheek, which, if you let it, only adds to the charm. Clive Tanaka y Su Orquesta combine steel drums with synthesizers; vocoder with electric guitar, it’s a big, lo-fi sound. “I Want You (So Bad)” bursts at the seams with dancefloor space and yet no single element overwhelms the others, a guitar solo writhes under a funky electro beat. The sound is tropical, heartfelt and infectious.

What Jet Set Siempre no. 1 is not is oppressive; it’s a soundtrack for getting work done or dancing in front of the mirror in your room. Depending on how loud you’re listening, it’s unobtrusively ambient or addictively danceable. The transitions between songs are so seamless it has the feel of a continuing story; the album plays both DJ and setlist. To this effect, we don’t want to go home when it’s all over.

“Lonely for the High Scrapers” is the optimistic ending, repeating the lyrics “You’re not the only one,” over and over—benediction to an album themed on unrequited love. With its prolific use of vocoder, reverb and trance keyboards, very little acoustic is heard throughout the entire album.  Jet Set Siempre no. 1 comes and goes like a dream; as swiftly as we feel the urge to dance, it ends leaving us wondering what we’ve just experienced, why this longing feeling.

Jet Set Siempre No. 1 Tracklisting

  1. All Night, All Right
  2. I Want You (So Bad)
  3. Neu Chicago
  4. Brack Lain
  5. Skinjob
  6. International Heartbreaker
  7. The Fourth Magi
  8. Lonely for the High Scrapers