Across the road from a well-known Milanese watering hole, Buscemi Dischi offers patrons a perfect listening post with an impressive stock of music, ranging from bluegrass to Música Popular Brasileira. At the shop’s listening stations, it is not uncommon to sample the Cracow Klezmer Band’s experimental Yiddish folk before being treated to a taste of BB King or indie darlings Bright Eyes.
Refreshingly, the syrupy headache-inducing Italian pop is kept well under wraps and among the 30,000 titles in stock, you will find rock, country, Celtic folk, rhythm & blues and electronica all ably represented. “Apart from heavy metal and some rap, our staff follow everything pretty closely,” says the owner Mario Buscemi.
The clean, well-lit shop is Buscemi’s baby. He took over the premises 30 years ago, when his parents closed down their home-appliance business. Having already dabbled in selling 45s, he began to build a loyal client base through word of mouth. His store’s success can be attributed to a simple strategy. “Always try to offer people something more than what the mass market gives them – and at a good price,” he says, matter of factly.
Spotlighting unknown artists is also taken seriously here – Buscemi Dischi has even produced four albums. “Back in the mid-’70s we carried Paolo Conte when he was a nobody and the same goes for Bright Eyes,” recalls Buscemi.
While other independent record shops in Milan have felt the pinch and folded, Buscemi Dischi opted to put its catalogue online to help sales. That said, purists are still most welcome to stop by and peruse CDs and the small, but discerning, vinyl collection.
— ICBuscemi Dischi, Corso Magenta 31, Milan; + 39 02 804103 www.buscemi.com
Buscemi Dischi’s top 10 records
- Soulsavers & M Lanegan, It’s not how far you fall, it’s the way you land
- Giovanni Allevi, Joy
- Paolo Fresu, Rosso, Verde, Giallo e Blu
- Mario Biondi & the High Five Quintet, Handful of Soul
- Bright Eyes, Cassadaga
- Neil Young, Live at Massey Hall 1971
- Lisa Gerrard, The Silver Tree
- LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
- Metheny/Mehldau, Quartet
- Film Soundtrack, Saturno Contro
“There are three things I cannot survive without – eating, listening to music and reading books. To me, books are a representation of being alive,” says Kisato Kusano, who has been managing the bookshop On Sundays since 1984 and surviving happily among its 6,000-plus titles, ranging in subject from photography, art and architecture to children’s books.
Located a short walk from the bustle of Aoyama, On Sundays inhabits the basement of the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art’s impressive grey, urban citadel, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. The proprietors, Etsuko Watari and her younger brother, Koichi, founded the shop in their university days when, because of their studies, they were only able to open the shop on Sundays, hence the name. “I’m often asked what my favourite book is, but I love all books, regardless of their content or design,” explains Kusano.
The staff have a cosy relationship with artists and galleries in every corner of the globe, which ensures On Sundays is near the top of the shortlist for rare and limited editions.
On Sundays, Jingu-mae, 3-7-6, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; +81 (0) 3 3470 1424 www.watarium.co.jp
Kisato Kusano’s top five books
- Heel to Heal: The Collections of Animal Paintings, Drawings and Photographs of Bruce Weber and Nan Bush (Windsor Press)
- Rockers Galore by Josh Cheuse (Stüssy Books)
- Gangs of Kabukicho by Watanabe Katsumi (PPP Editions)
- Damien Hirst: Corpus (Gagosian Gallery)
- Japan-ness in Architecture by Arata Isozaki (MIT Press)