There’s an underground scene in Japan filled with train sounds and PA systems.
The oto-tetsu scene (from the Japanese words oto meaning sound and tetsudō meaning railway) takes the sounds and ambience of the Japanese rail system. When you think about it, there are a multitude of different noises mashed together in train stations but you never really notice them if you commute. Oto-tetsu producers extract them and turn them into fast-paced tracks.
Fans of Dance Dance Revolution will be familiar with the tempo and hard thumping rhythms associated with oto-tetsu music. It’s very much a hodge-podge of sound and music; mechanical order and melodic chaos. Songs rise above 160bpm with stuttering samples and thudding drums. It’s a unique experience but showcases the power of sampling.
According to The Japan Times, oto-tetsu producers use Reaper to make their tracks. It’s a cost-effective DAW, starting at $60 for a personal licence (or if you make less than $20,000 a year from music created on it) but a commercial licence costs just $225. As most of the producers making this music are in their teens and early 20s, this is a very young genre and arguably a sound of their generation.
Stream one of those oto-tetsu songs below.