Casino Versus Japan is the recording name for Erik Kowalski (born May 5, 1973), a United States-based electronic musician from Lexington, Kentucky by way of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who produces intelligent dance music (IDM for short) with baroque melodies and distorted trip-hop beats.
As a young boy in Wisconsin he recorded episodes of television series Miami Vice, sampling Jan Hammer's music, later collecting them, and playing them over the backdrop of other musical genres. After a brief stint with model railroading such experiments with tape grew less obvious.
Samples were collected from a range of sources, and eventually mixed with meagre homespun recordings. Later attending Lincoln High School in Manitowoc, Kowalski would often be found playing the grand piano in the empty auditorium rather than attending class, slowly teaching himself chord progressions.
During this same period, he also learned the basics of other instruments including guitar and drums in an effort to put together simple songs. By then, other influences began to take hold.Kowalski (recording guitar-based, ambient/experimental music as Radiogate in 1996 and 1997) found many creative peers and grew into an integrated underground electronic music community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
His tenure at Atomic Records, along with writing for the alternative fanzine Milk Magazine, kept him informed on developments within many styles of innovative music. While being an avid music consumer and collector, all of these points became the ingredients of a dedicated music hobby that led to more focused and devoted recordings.
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 found itself in a Hummer television commercial, allowing his music to reach a far greater audience.
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, capping off a busy year for the artist.
In 2004, a collection of outtakes and unreleased tracks, Hitori + Kaiso 1998-2001, appeared, as well as a split EP with the California duo Freescha. A new LP is slated for 2009, along with several mini and collaborative releases.
Discography * Casino Versus Japan, CD (Star Star Stereo) * Go Hawaii, CD (Wobblyhead) * Go Hawaii, 2x12" (City Centre Offices) * "Via", 10" (Wobblyhead) * "Silver And Gold" b/w "64 Colors" Split 7" w/ Am Boy * Whole Numbers Play the Basics, CD and LP (Carpark Records) * Hitori + Kaiso 1998 - 2001, Double CD (Attack 9) * "Casino Versus Japan + Freescha" CDEP/12" (Wobblyhead)
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