Chu Ishikawa's site rehost is live!

Posted: Tue, Sep 19, 2023
Last updated: Wed, Mar 6, 2024

Chu Ishikawa is a man who needs no introduction. He wrote the soundtrack to many of Shinya Tsukamoto and Takashi Miike’s films alongside having his own music groups… Der Eisenrost and also some of his soundtrack work has been featured in a few of me playlists, back when I used to make those… yeah I know, I’ll get round to making another soon!

The man was a legend and made some timeless, genuinely iconic soundtracks. I have so much love and respect for him as a musician. His site was lush, and the main reason I wanted to rehost it was a sort of ‘in memoriam’ for him.

An archived version of his site is linked, handily enough, on his Wikipedia page. It’s a bit difficult to navigate in the sense that the Wayback Machine seems to be having a shit ton of issues and also that his site is just… not brilliantly preserved. You’ll often have to switch between snapshops to find specific images and there’s files that have been fully lost.

Nevertheless, I’ve harvested his site, cleaned up the HTML somewhat, and I have it hosted under me ‘affiliates’ in the footer! Have a scroll down, or just click the image below to take you there.

Chu Ishikawa site rehost banner

I thought I’d wrap his site in a container as I thought it would complement the compact format better (and be a little easier to escape back here, if you so wanted to!)

fun with fonts

One part that took me on a bit of a detour was trying to figure out the damn font! None was provided by the site - there was no CSS to be seen and zero embedded fonts. I was torn - the site was built in a time where it would fall to browser or system defaults. That’s easy enough for me to do, and spoiler: that’s exactly what I did. Bog standard Arial with whatever sans-serif fallback your machine has laying about, I’m sorry about it. I was thinking though, wouldn’t it be class if I could attempt to capture what the developer of the site was looking at, at time of release? Not like I got anywhere, but I did do some exploring…

I had few clues to go on, but I’d say the biggest was on the archived Discography page, which was first archived by the Wayback Machine in May 2001… yet, his homepage was inaccessible from May 2000… it was a mess. Anyway, for some reaon, that whole page was wrapped in a screen-sized iframe. The source code for the page within the iframe had an interesting meta tag:

<META NAME="generator" CONTENT="GoLive CyberStudio">

GoLive CyberStudio was a HTML editor that started off as simply ‘GoLive’ in June 1996, a few iterations later becoming GoLive CyberStudio, after finally being bought by Adobe, renamed to ‘Adobe GoLive’ before being discontinued in 2008. Important point - it became CyberStudio in April 1997. This led to a rabbit hole that I thought about going down on, i.e. grabbing a digital copy of CyberStudio, emulating it, and seeing what font it spat out. Right off the bat this wasn’t trivial, but I’ll circle back to it one day as I’d love to have a play about with that software.

some broken bits

A few further things, there are some parts which are broken, odd, or strange dead ends:

  • Info will take you to a page that has a single icon on it reading ‘Shinya Tsukamoto’. The link behind this was fully lost to time, so just admire the background on that one. More on the broken link in a sec.
  • Instrument Gallery has one missing sound file, called tank.aiff. This one was lost as the image map was never built correctly, meaning that the sound file was never accessible via standard use/web crawling, meaning you had to dig in to the page’s source code to even realise it was there. As you can imagine, that file was never archived. I removed the broken part of the image map as it didn’t affect anything.
  • The Shockwave version of the above gallery wasn’t well preserved either. The only file I could pull was the loading file, which I just converted to a gif and hosted. It’s not very exciting. The regular imagemap works perfectly well if you ask me, which is the main thing!
  • Jack has lop-sided eyeballs, but it looks like this wasn’t intentional! The align attribute on one of them was never set correctly (it had "TOP " over "TOP"), but I thought preserving it how it was would make more sense than ‘fixing’ it. It’s got charm.

for the future…

You may also notice on the home page the mention of something called Unsound, which in short was a collaborative web project for various music and visual artists. The broken Tsukamoto link is tied in with this – Ishikawa’s site was intertwined with many other artists as part of this thing. Trying to unearth all of this is a task and a half, one I’m still working on when meatspace responsibilities aren’t absorbing all of my free time.

I’m in the process of scraping as much as I can of the Unsound site (I’m not kidding when I say 90%+ is just gone) and putting together a fat post on that. I also want to rehost everything from there that can possibly be salvaged, but that will take significantly longer. I’m hellbent on doing it though. I often wonder how many snapshots of music history on the web have been lost to time like this, it’s fascinating finding out what was around but upsetting to know so much is permanently irretrievable.

2024-03-06 - a lil update

I’ve migrated this post from the System Logs to the Coding Quarter, as it just feels a bit more at home here.