Casino Versus Japan
Casino Versus Japan (sometimes Casino vs. Japan) is the recording name for Erik Kowalski (born May 5, 1973 in Wisconsin), a United States-based electronic musician who produces intelligent dance music (IDM).
Erik Kowalski started with recorded episodes of Miami Vice, sampling Jan Hammer's music, sampling and playing them over the backdrop of other musical genres. More samples were collected from a range of sources and mixed with other homemade recordings. Kowalski taught himself piano in high school, along with guitar and drums, and began putting together simple songs.
Early work and releases
Recording guitar-based, ambient/experimental music as Radiogate in 1996 and 1997, Kowalski matured in the underground electronic music community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He worked at Atomic Records and also wrote for the alternative fanzine Milk Magazine to stay informed on developments within many styles of innovative music. In early 1998, he approached Mike Bailey of the local electronic label Star Star Stereo with some demo tapes, and shortly thereafter, released his self-titled debut Casino Versus Japan. This subsequently led to live performances (including several dates opening for Low) with Charles Wyatt (Charles Atlas) accompanying Kowalski on guitar. In January 2000, Go Hawaii was released on CD by Wobblyhead (later on double-vinyl LP by City Centre Offices, 2001). By the summer of 2002, the track "It's Very Sunny" was used in a Hummer television commercial. His third album Whole Numbers Play the Basics, followed in September, 2002 on Carpark Records. The song "Manic Thru Tone" was used in MTV's "Choose Or Lose" campaign in the fall of 2002.
Collections and collaborations
Hitori + Kaiso 1998-2001, a collection of unreleased tracks, appeared in 2004. The album was compiled and released by Attacknine Records from a large archive of material initially presented as a gift to Nick Huntington of Freescha, and not intended for public release. Huntington enthusiastically encouraged a release, however, which also resulted in the 2010 collection Night on Tape, another batch of selected tracks from same archive. Casino Versus Japan and Freescha released a Split EP together in 2004.
Tracks by Casino Versus Japan have featured heavily during the intermissions of NPR's Radiolab podcast. In July 2011 Radiolab were licenced to allow followers to download Casino Versus Japan's Miano: A Pink Night For Snowmen from the Night on Tape album.
Albums and collections
- Casino Versus Japan, CD (1998, Star Star Stereo)
- Go Hawaii, CD (2000, Wobblyhead) 2x12" LP (2001, City Centre Offices)
- Whole Numbers Play the Basics, CD and LP (2002, Carpark Records)
- Hitori + Kaiso 1998 - 2001, Double CD (2004, Attacknine)
- Casino Versus Japan [Reissue] (2010, Moodgadget)
- Night on Tape (2010, Attacknine)
Singles and EPs
- "Via", 10" (Wobblyhead)
- "Silver And Gold" b/w "64 Colors" Split 7" w/ Am Boy
- "Casino Versus Japan + Freescha" [Split] CDEP/12" (Wobblyhead)
- "Damaged Eratta", "Scenic Loop"