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カテゴリー: English

entries written in English

You gotta check “Apple Vinegar Music Award”, the musicians’ choice of the year.

Hm. Hi, this is imdkm. I’ve posted nine entries since January. I dunno how many people reading this blog, but I hope someday these entries would be read by many music fans and make ‘em listen to Japanese pop music more. This year’s resolution of mine.

Well, today, I’d like to introduce an interesting project named “Apple Vinegar Music Award“. It is an independent annual award to shed the light on the year’s most excellent but relatively unknown releases of young musicians in Japan. It was founded by Masafumi Goto, who is ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s vocalist and guitarist, in 2018 (for those who doesn’t know ‘em, the band’s introduction is in the final paragraphs of this post). Nominees are selected by him and judges are well-known musicians in J-POP scene, who are friends of him–seemingly rather private than public, but its mission is very ambitious for just an personal project. I’m sure it’s worth to check it out.

Although Goto’s own musical taste is mostly rock music, many past nominees are from different fields. In 2018, four out of ten nominees were rappers or hip-hop groups (Yurufuwa Gang, Punpee, Awich, JJJ), and eventually, the Japanese rapper JJJ won the award. Of course, the award isn’t diverse enough to cover entire J-POP (there are no idol groups or dance music producers). But through this award, you can hear some interesting things going on in the recent J-POP scene.

Yuta Orisaka’s なつのべ is not on spotify. please check this video!

This year’s nominees were more diverse in terms of musical styles. Singer and songwriters (Kaho Nakamura, Yuta Orisaka, Hakushi Hasegawa, AAAMYYY), a beatmaker (STUTS), rappers (VaVa, Kid Fresino) and rock bands (ROTH BART BARON, Gateballers, Tempalay, Age Factory, GEZAN). The winner of the year was Nakamura and three nominees, Orisaka, Kid Fresino, and GEZAN were selected as the honorable mentions. Since the award could fund 1,200,000 yen ($10,800 or €9,600) from supporters including Goto himself, the prize was distributed as below; 600,000 yen for Nakamura, 200,000 yen for Orisaka, Kid Fresino, and GEZAN each.

Fortunately, I have written about many nominees on this blog. Orisaka’s 平成 was the very first post. Also, I’ve Nakamura’s AINOU, Hakushi Hasegawa’s 草木萌動 on this blog. For your convenience, each post has embedded Spotify playlist for the albums. I’m now planning writing the rest of this year’s nominees. My next post will be Kid Fresino’s Ai qing, which was one of the honorable mentions of the year.

Asian Kung-Fu Generation is one of the most popular rock band since 00s known for their unique interpretation of 90’s grunge and Emo sound. Many songs of them were used by ultra-famous animes like NARUTO, Fullmetal Alchemist, and BLEACH. So if you’re familiar with these animes, you should know them by their songs such as “リライト (Rewrite)”.

AKG and Goto are also known for their remarks on Japan’s music scenes and the industry. For example, in order to share their influence and fascination with their listeners, they have held their own festival called “NANO-MUGEN”, where they invited their favorite bands from Japan, UK, and the US to play in front of the young audience in Japan. Recently, Goto often insists that Japanese music companies should make use of subscription platforms like Spotify and Apple Music more, instead of depending on selling physical media like CD and Blu-ray. AKG’s latest ホームタウン is an emotional guitar pop album rendered in simple and delicate, yet powerful sound. You should check this one, too.

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Maison book girl, yume, 2018.

In Japan, there has been a so-called “idol” scene for decades. Yes, you may know Perfume, BABYMETAL, and several groups which feature young female performers. But there are much more to check out. Maison book girl is one of them. They’re my most favorite group, and their 2018 full-length yume is a masterpiece (IMO).

Before introducing the album, let me roughly trace a brief history of recent idol scene in Japan. Since AKB48’s debut in 2005, numerous girls’ groups have emerged both overground and underground. The latter ones were called “地下アイドル (Chika Idol)” and established its cultural status in Japanese pop culture. Today the line between major idols and underground idols have been blurred and the entire idol scene is getting saturated. But some acts continue to endeavor to make more unique, sophisticated works and performances.

Maison book girl is one of them. They were founded by a producer and composer Kenta Sakurai and a former BiS (a seminal idol group of the 2010s) member Megumi Koshoji along with Aoi Yagawa, Yui Inoue, and Kaori Sohmoto. But Sohmoto left the group in 2015 and Rin Wada joined later soon. Sakurai produces almost entire music and words, and four singers and dancers Koshoji, Yagawa, Inoue, and Wada perform in front of the audience.

Musically, Sakurai’s composition is heavily influenced by contemporary classical music. Although its tonal structure is more like post-rock or prog-rock (well, say, not “atonal” like twelve-tone or serialism things), its rhythmic structure reminds me of the post-war minimalism era defined by the works of Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Irregular meters, metric modulations, and counter-point like conversations between melodies give the music a complex character which is almost going beyond “pop” or “rock”. But at the same time, often it gets quite emotional and catchy.

In yume, Maison book girl’s music and performance accomplished the highest quality not only throughout their career but among fellow idols (well, uh, just my opinion!). yume is a concept album about dreams, as its title says. It features some field recordings (including the operating noise of fMRI which is analyzing a brain dreaming) and skits, then these sound pieces glue up this album into a dream-like entity. It is fragmented into illogical moments like surrealistic poetry, but its entire listening experience has sort of peculiar consistency.

It’s almost impossible to pick up my favorite, but “言選り (kotoeri)” and “レインコートと首の無い鳥 (a raincoat and a headless bird)” are well composed and full of skillful performance. The former song’s lyrics were written by an AI which was made especially for them. Studying Sakurai’s repertoire, it creates new lines automatically. In my eyes , it’s like a simulated unconsciousness that surrealists would want it deadly. It can be said that yume is well-rendered 21st century version of surrealist work in disguise of girl-pop.

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tofubeats, RUN, 2018

The 2010s was the decade of tofubeats. Some wouldn’t agree with me but this has been my honest feeling for years. Working with numerous J-POP acts like Chisato Moritaka, KREVA, Bonnie Pink etc., now he is one of the most popular DJ and producer among his generation. “水星”, his earliest breakthrough hit, is like the decade’s standard number as many young pop singers have made their own version of it.

He’s known for his prolific and genre bending activities–DJing, singing, beatmaking and producing other artists. His danceable and euphoric sound attracted not only dance floor but more wider audience. You can feel it when you listen to First Album or POSITIVE, his first and second full-length with Warner Music Japan.

However, his creative turning point was, as far as I’ve seen, FANTASY CLUB which was released in 2017. It was a very introspective, reflective, thoughtful piece of art, contrary to his public image–a producer specialized to pop, funny, joyful and party-oriented dance music. Instead, he sang his everyday struggles and a little prayer, almost alone in his bedroom studio. It sounded much more honest than ever, showing his ability to make a conceptual, serious-themed album (the album’s main motif was “post-truth”, 2016’s buzz word).

2018’s release RUN was obviously the sequel to FANTASY CLUB. In FANTASY CLUB, he seemed to be afraid of saying something plainly. He was trying to figure out how the world should be and just prayed. He didn’t make any assert on it. On the contrary, in “RUN”, the album’s opening song, he declared that he was gonna start to run and keep on running ‘til the end, even the situation would discourage him. Heavy trap-like 808 bass and edgy hi-hats drive his motivation and the song’s straightforward one-verse structure underlines his decision. This was one of the best songs in 2018.

The album included also his recent hits “ふめつのこころ” and “RIVER”, along with instrumental house tracks (“You Make Me Acid”, “Return to Sender”, “Bullet Trn”), a uk garage style tune (“Newtown”) and polyrhythmic intimate conversation with someone (“Sometimes”). The sound was more powerful than the last album and very consistent throughout the twelve tracks despite those varieties of beats.

My favorite is the last track, “ふめつのこころ(SLOWDOWN)”. As the title says, this song is a reprise of “ふめつのこころ”, but with more sincere messages to the listeners. Let me summarize; You can rewind this song (or any kind of song as far as it’s recorded) and play it back again, or slow it down in order to listen more closely. Even you can’t understand what’s going on, you’ll find something in your mind. So please do not give up, try again.

In my opinion, this is both how to listen to music in the age of mechanical reproduction and how to understand others in the age of social dissonance. And, this is one of possible solutions to the question posed by FANTASY CLUB.

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長谷川白紙 (Hakushi Hasegawa), 草木萌動 (So-moku Ho-do), 2018

There has been a so-called “netlabel” scene in Japan since the late 2000s as well as overseas. Maltine Records is one of the most famous netlabels in Japan, which was founded by two then high school students in 2005. Specializing in the contemporary dance and electronic music producers, they’ve released over 170 singles or eps including ones by dj newtown (a.k.a. tofubeats), TORIENA, Pa’s Lam System, パソコン音楽クラブ (Pasocom Ongaku Club) etc..

When Hakushi Hasegawa released his first ep アイフォーンシックスプラス (iPhone Six Plus) from Maltine Records, he was only 18 yrs old. Although every song from the ep had a very delicate and complicated tonal or rhythmic structure in it, his voice was so smooth, sweet, soft and soothing. Unlike the label’s previous releases, the ep was not particularly for a dance floor. But his kaleidoscopic groove inevitably invited listeners to dance, even if you couldn’t figure out its time signature. Since then, Hasegawa has been considered one of the latest talents from Maltine Records.

But he soon underwent the next breakthrough. In November 2018, he announced his second ep, 草木萌動 (So-moku Ho-do), would be released in December. The title was taken from the traditional Chinese calendar which had been also used by Japanese people, meaning “when trees and plants begin to bloom”.

This word properly explains Hasegawa’s music, I think. While his debut had sort of post-internet feeling in its title and artwork, the music was rather erotic, physical, and pseudo-organic. Influenced by contemporary classical music and jazz, he wove up complex harmonies, repeated key changes, and the polyrhythmic groove to make a rhizome-like structure under the ground. Then his voice soaked into it like rain watering plants and their roots. On the surface, plants were coming into buds, almost blooming, shaking themselves.

As he keeps on making songs and playing lots of shows, he’s studying composing at a university now. One can easily recognize his knowledge of the musical grammar particularly 20th century’s avant-garde in his songs. But his uniqueness is that he’s capable of writing pop songs with those idioms at the edge of the academic discipline. Along with his past works including 草木萌動, his recent collaboration with 入江陽 (Yo Irie) and BOMI is a very good example. I wish he would gain more attention and write some chart-topping tunes someday.

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三浦大知 (Daichi Miura), 球体 (Kyu-tai), 2018

Kiyoshi Matsuo, the R&B expert and renowned producer, once said that Japanese people prefer a genuine singer to an all-rounder. Eiichi Ohtaki, the legendary singer and songwriter, also pointed out that Japanese people tend to value singing too much. In Japan, it can be said that an ideal singer must sing emotionally without moving so the audience can absorb into the voice.

However, Daichi Miura’s distinguished performance would change such unconscious bias among Japanese people. He’s undoubtedly the most acclaimed pop act in Japan now, and his latest full-length 球体 gained so much attention that some critics and listeners concidered the album as the best release in 2018.

Working with the long-time collaborator Nao’ymt, Miura explored how far he could go as both a dancer and a singer (球体 was originally a staged performance by himself). Nao’ymt’s music for this project was a very eclectic mix of EDM, ambient R&B, and Japanese traditional instruments. “飛行船 (Hikousen)” is a good example. The future bass-inspired beat features 尺八 (shakuhachi, bamboo flute) in its drop. It’s both danceable and a bit exotic although the entire feeling is very modern.

But what made this album special was Nao’ymt’s songwriting. Deliberately rhymed Japanese poetry with heavily syncopated and complicated rhythm sounds like nothing else. Moreover, Miura’s outstanding vocalization and delivery give some luxurious texture to it. In the chorus part of “綴化 (Tekka)”, he effortlessly sings a series of percussive, tricky melodies with his virtuosity. I was quite impressed when I listened to it for the first time.

Miura’s career covers over 20 years since his debut in 1997. He originally debuted as a lead singer of children’s performance group Folder and had some hits with them. After he left the group because of his voice condition, he took a long hiatus and then debuted again as a solo singer (the song linked below is his first single). It was in 2005. His career may have been rather difficult than you think of, but he’s worked so hard that even he was invited to sing at the Emperor Akihito’s 30th-anniversary ceremony in early 2019.

Even considering all of that, 球体 and the year 2018 will be remembered as his creative breakthrough, as his later singles including “Be Myself” and “Blizzard” (Yes, the main theme song of the blockbuster anime, Dragon Ball: Broly) proved.

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cero, POLY LIFE MULTI SOUL, 2018

Throughout the 2010s, Japanese pop music has been obsessed with the so-called ‘urban’ or ‘city’ feeling. Many bands tried to render their impressions on their own city life, mostly in Tokyo. They sounded more optimistic than how the society actually was, but I think it was kinda redevelopment of their imaginary city. After the great earthquake in 2011, this act of redevelopment became more crucial since the city–well, of course, Tokyo–was heavily damaged both literally and psychologically. They needed to fix it, at least imaginarily.

In my opinion, cero’s body of work is a good example of this zeitgeist. The band was originally formed by three multi-instrumentalists, Shohei Takagi, Yu Arauchi, and Tomoyuki Yanagi in 2004. Around 2006 Tsubasa Hashimoto joined them. They released their debut full-length in 2011 but Yanagi left the band. Now cero consists of Takagi, Arauchi, and Hashimoto along with a bunch of skillful fellow musicians supporting them.

Their early works like WORLD RECORD and My Lost City were a very playful and fantastic depiction of the contemporary city and suburban life. Influenced by classic Japanese rock bands such as はっぴいえんど, they played psychedelic folk-rock songs with comtemporary twists that could be compared to early Beck, but with a more exotic flavor.

However, after these two records, they began exploring a different direction. Their EP Yellow Magus released in 2013 was comprised of four songs apparently inspired by deep funk tunes from the 70s. Two years later, they released their third album Obscure Ride. It was heavily influenced by neo-soul and contemporary jazz, particularly D’Angelo’s Voodoo or the Soulquarians’ other works.

Since then, their main interest has been rhythm and groove. Listening to Obscure Ride, you can imagine they roam around the imaginary city and its suburbs on the loose, out-of-pocket 16-beat with bittersweet R&B feelings. It fascinated some audience in Japan and led the band one of the most prominent acts in Tokyo.

And POLY LIFE MULTI SOUL was released in 2018. As soon as its lead single “魚の骨 鳥の羽根” uploaded on YouTube, it made a sensation. As you can hear, it features 3:4 cross-rhythm entirely. Moreover, the other songs also feature polyrhythm, irregular meters, metric modulations.

Although their rhythmic structure is rather complex, this album is quite danceable. It ends with a song named “Poly Life Multi Soul,” which has a strong four-on-the-floor beat in the second half. This ending sequence reminds me of feeling right before the party’s over. Delightfully tired, getting ready to start another day under the sun.

In terms of lyrics, it seemed influenced by American and South American literature. In fact, “夜になると鮭は” directly adapts Raymond Carver’s poem. Here, the surrealistic nature of contemporary city life was connected with the magical realism by the lyricist and vocalist, Takagi. Feeling haunted by anonymous lives and straying souls, we’re trying to deal with everyday life.

Far from the city as an idealized utopia, POLY LIFE MULTI SOUL arrived at somewhere both magical and uncanny. And this actually was the Japanese city life in 2018, I think.

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中村佳穂 (Kaho Nakamura), AINOU, 2018

Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, is known for its cultural scenes. Regarding music, there’s plenty of musicians playing indie rock, electronic music, hip hop, and more eclectic things. This is maybe because of the nature of the city, where is known as students’ city with lots of universities in rather a small area. Of course, there’s also precious historical heritage making this town enchanted.

Kaho Nakamura is a Kyoto-native singer and songwriter, and is one of the most prominent figures in recent Kyoto cultural scene. Her second full-length AINOU was critically acclaimed for its distinguished composition, sound design, and excellent vocalization. Praised by senior musicians like Kan Takano, Shigeru Kishida, and tofubeats, she was already known for her playful performance which was full of virtuosity. However, the album was the real breakthrough for her.

From a groovy mid-tempo like “きっとね! (Kitto Ne!)” to a neo-soul flavored slow jam “get back” or a simple piano ballad “永い言い訳 (Nagai Iiwake)”, AINOU takes a very eclectic approach which mixed Techno, R&B, Neo-Soul, City Pop, House, and Japanese Folklore etc. Then Nakamura’s voice gives unity to the entire album. She sings in a very delicate and nuanced manner as if she’s trying to precisely trace the feeling inside the song.

I think the biggest charm of this record is a tension between her raw genius and the post-production. In “you may they”, the vocal is slightly glitched and the beat is like a fusion of L.A. beats in the late 2000s and indie pop today. While the delicate yet eloquent character of her voice is obvious, the song seems trying to deconstruct it. This may be a reflection of the recording process, which took two years and a half to finish.

The turning point was James Blake’s performance at Fuji Rock Festival 2016, where she also played at. His performance, the dubstep-influenced complex texture of sound fused with a soulful voice, inspired Nakamura’s creativity. She decided to make a “sound-oriented” work different from her previous “song-oriented” ones. One massive sub-bass can tell something emotional. Some delicate reverberation can move someone’s heart. She tried to make something like these. Well, as far as I understand by her interviews.

With help from fellow musicians like Masahiro Araki and Yuichi Fukaya (from Remi-gai), Ryo Konishi (from CRCK/LCKS), Shuhei Nishida (from Yoshida Yohei Group), she finally made it. Thus, AINOU‘s eclectic approach is the result of her creative ambition and collaboration with the devoted fellows.

If you love AINOU, you better try listening to Remi-gai, CRCK/LCKS, and Yoshida Yohei Group. Their works also represent the cutting edge of Japanese alternative pop music. Particularly, Remi-gai’s recent work is quite interesting. In 2016, they worked with students’ glee club and brass band, and released two EPs (the dance we do, GIANT). You can feel how they influenced the production of AINOU.

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崎山蒼志 (Sohshi Sakiyama), いつかみた国 (Itsuka Mita Kuni), 2018

Sohshi Sakiyama is a singer and songwriter from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. He’s only 16-year-old but has gained enormous attention throughout 2018, since he appeared on AbemaTV’s program “日村が行く!(Himura ga Yuku)”, where he played his song “五月雨 (Samidare)”. The video went viral as soon as it appeared on Twitter and quickly built a huge fan base among the listeners including well-known Japanese rock musicians such as Enon Kawatani (from Gesu no Kiwami Otome), or Shigeru Kishida (from Quruli).

The song’s lyrics were full of unique metaphors and bright poesy, and also the song itself was quite sophisticated in terms of melodies and harmonies. However, I think the most attractive thing in his performance was his singing voice. His high-tone, shaking voice reminded me of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, or David Byrne in a way. Of course, they’re not quite similar though. Some might even say they’ve never listened to such an idiosyncratic voice. I almost agree with them.

The fans immediately started digging YouTube for the singer’s performance vids which had been uploaded before then. Fortunately, there were plenty of his live footages on the net because he frequently played around Hamamatsu music scene and the audience has recorded his performances for several years. More they found, more they loved him.

Finally, he signed to Sony Music and began releasing several singles from last summer to autumn. On December 5th, he released his 1st full-length, “いつかみた国 (Itsuka Mita Kuni)”. This 7-track LP includes the breakthrough “五月雨”, fans’ favorite “ソフト (Soft)”, as well as new songs.

Throughout the nearly entire album, Sakiyama just strums the guitar and sing (except one song, “龍の子 (Tatsu no Ko)”, which he tried DAW for the first time). That’s all and enough! There seems no edit, no effect, you can only hear his properly recorded performance. But thanks for his elegant guitar skill, they sound like kinds of Post-Rock, Prog-Rock, or even Electro. I strongly recommend to try this album once, and I’m pretty sure you’ll fall in love with it. Even if without words, his vibrant voice and excellent guitar play should move your heart.

For your information, one of Sakiyama’s favorite release in 2018 is Yves Tumor’s “Safe in the Hands of Love”, according to his tweet. Isn’t it very curious, is it?

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宇多田ヒカル (Hikaru Utada), 初恋(Hatsukoi), 2018

If you’re acquainted with the Japanese pop culture, you may know Hikaru Utada. She’s one of Japan’s most famous singer and songwriter in these decades. Her debut album First Love sold over 10 million copies worldwide. It is the best selling J-POP album in history–and no one will ever break this record.

In 1998, with her debut single “Automatic / time will tell,” she changed the entire landscape of J-POP. Heavily influenced by the contemporary urban music like R&B, she showed Japanese audience how the Japanese language can groove on the R&B-oriented beat.

Of course, there were many precursors in terms of this kind of practice in Japan. From pre-modern Jazz to Rock n Roll to Soul to Hip Hop, Japanese musicians had been trying to adopt Western music into their musical vocabulary. Roughly, their main concern was how Western pop music could be sung in Japanese. Utada’s debut was like its ultimate answer emerged at the very end of the 20th century. 

Since then, along with her comrades such as Ringo Sheena, she’s been recognized as the most prominent artist in contemporary Japanese pop music. However, she took a hiatus from 2011 to 2015, saying that she wanted to live an ordinary life for a while.

In 2016, Utada announced come-back and released Fantôme, which featured several guest singers. Before then, she rarely invited guest singers in her music. Given that, the album seemed like a thankful gift for her fans those who patiently waited for her come back.

Moreover, it displayed her development as an artist in terms of singing rhythm and flow. I bet you can hear it clearly when you play “忘却 (Bo-kyaku)” with KOHH. On the atmospheric heartbeat-like beat, here she’s chanting like a prayer, rather than a pop star. The repetition of the same rhythm figure emphasizes rhymes between the lines, just as KOHH’s unique vocalization and flow do. His approach is more complicated, say, kinds of polyrhythmic one, though.

Two years later, 2018, she released her latest, 初恋 (Hatsukoi). The title means “first love” in English. This obviously refers to her debut album. It seemed as if she was trying to reboot her career for it was her 20th anniversary year as a singer and songwriter.

The album was thematically pretty delicate and self-reflective. For example, she frankly revealed her mixed feeling towards her mother, who deceased in 2013. On the other hand, in some songs, she showed her blissful and dramatic feeling in love with her lover, even singing people would be envious of her entire life with him.

From musical aspects, the album was quite challenging. With help from distinguished musicians such as Chris Dave on the drums, the rhythmical experiment which had been pursued in Fantôme became more sophisticated than ever. She tapped into the recent Trap style singing and rhyming, the polyrhythmic structure of the beat, and the subtle but definitive change of flow.

Listen to “誓い (Chikai),” which is now known as “Don’t Think Twice” outside Japan. This was the theme song for Kingdom Hearts 3 and led to Utada’s recent collaboration with Skrillex. According to Utada’s vocal, the song sounds basically 6/8. But if you focus on the piano, you can feel 4/4 with a bit swing or a loose groove. Still more, Utada sings very straightforward 16 beat at the bridge. These factors give this song a very interesting texture in terms of rhythm. Keeping this texture throughout the song rather than make a dramatic catharsis at the end, listeners are left emotionally confused a little and prompted to play it again and again.

Some argue that this album is the best release of 2018. I half agree with it. Honestly, I don’t like the lyrics, the messages they contain. However, there’s no doubt that this exquisite songwriting and arranging has no equal among contemporary Japanese pop music. It’s great pleasure that such an incredible album gained so much popularity in Japan (it reached #3 in the Billboard Japan year chart 2018). I strongly recommend to check out Utada’s recent works including 初恋 and Skrillex collaboration “Face My Fears.”

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折坂悠太 (Yuta Orisaka), 平成 (Heisei), 2018

Heisei era, beginning in early 1989 as Emperor Hirohito deceased, is going to end in April 2019. It was the era of increasing depression both economically and socially. These three decades are known notoriously as “lost decades,” Japanese people went through the collapse of the economy and severe disasters like several great earthquakes, ane even faced the fear of terrorism by some religious cults.

Yuta Orisaka was born in 1989. His life has been therefore along with Heisei era. At the very end of it, perhaps he’s inevitably conscious about what these three decades meant to him. So he wrote a song and named it “Heisei,” moreover he decided to make it the title of the entire album.

Heisei is his sophomore full-length, which is critically acclaimed for its elegant use of Japanese poetic styles and various singing methods. Before Heisei is released, Hikaru Utada, the most famous and popular singer and songwriter in Japan, said Orisaka’s “あさま (Asama)” from his debut was her favorite. Since then, he gained much attention and finally he did meet people’s expectations by Heisei.

Although some of its motives in the album are apparently taken from recent events like the great earthquakes, these songs sound just like recordings from a hundred years ago, the early days of Japanese pop music history. It is, in some way, because of their rhetric (poetic or literary rather than colloquial) and use of musical scales that are often said “traditional.” Also this is because of the lack of Rock feeling. Orisaka’s music is a fusion of Jazz, Latin, Country, and Japanese Folklore, etc.. But there seems few traces of Rock. Thus, his music reminds me of pre-Rock decades of Japanese pop music.

Orisaka also shows off his voice in different ways. He sings, shouts, read aloud his lyrics and poetry. Often his performance gets very theatrical, especially in “逢引 (meeting).” This surrealistic narrative fuses a love song and a monologue in a battlefield by the power of his voices. As you can hear in it, he’s a quite skillful and unique singer.

Through Heisei, the singer shows us some visions and emotions rather than telling a story. They feel like pale shadows both comfortable and a bit depressing. And this ambivalent feeling is like what I got when I reminisce Heisei era. I’m sure that almost everyone spent these decades in Japan would feels the same.

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