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Examining gender (in)equality among four major music festivals in Japan

In February 2018, PRS Foundation launched a campaign named Keychange. By encouraging music festivals to achieve a 50:50 gender balance by 2022, it aims to make the music industry more inclusive and create a better future. Initially, their partners were 45 festivals around the world but now they include more than 130 festivals.

Nowadays, music festivals are the industry’s most important opportunity to reach a major audience. Moreover, as some big festivals started to stream their stages via YouTube, music festivals became not only a place for the live experience but also a crucial platform of the business. So Keychange’s activity is to the point. Festivals could epitomize the whole industry in many ways.

While Keychange aims to create the future, some media is examining the status quo statistically with vivid visualization. In May 2018, Pitchfork published the result of their own research for the festival’s gender equity in America. According to the report, in 2017, festivals’ lineup in the US festivals had 74% male acts, 14% female, and 12% mixed. The next year’s had 70% male, 19% female, and 11 % mixed. For a more detailed investigation, you can read this article.

Then, how’s it going here in Japan?

Since the first Fuji Rock Festival in 1997, music festivals in Japan saw rapid growth throughout the 00s. By the early 2010s, music festivals became one of the most popular leisure activity. This given situation even encouraged some rock bands to invent “Festival Rock,” which features uplifting four-on-the-floor drum beats and sing-along friendly melodies.

Thus, although music festivals have been playing a pivotal role in Japan’s music industry, there are few mentions on gender equality. I couldn’t find statistics on it so I decided to collect data by myself.

There are four major music festivals in Japan: Fuji Rock Festival, Summer Sonic, Rock In Japan Festival, and Rising Sun Rock Festival. The former two are known for their international lineup in contrast to the latter two focus on acts that are based in Japan. I limited the scope of this research to those four festivals’ lineup for the last five years. I scraped those festivals’ web site by Python and checked out each acts’ gender as far as I could find.

Below is what I found.

SUMMARY

  • In 2019, the lineup for major festivals in Japan was 65% male acts and 35% female or mixed acts.
    • Comparing those festivals, it seems there’s no big difference between them as far as concerning male : female (or mixed) ratio.
    • The festival that included the most female acts in 2019 was Summersonic (22%).
    • The festival that included the least female acts in 2019 was Fuji Rock Festival (12%).
  • From 2016 to 2018, the lineup for major festivals in Japan had been 69% male acts and 31% female or mixed acts.
    • Looking at annual changes, there is hardly a particular tendency on the male : female ratio.
    • However, some festivals’ transitions show possible intentions to reduce the male ratio.
      • In 2016, Fuji had 75% male acts and Rock In Japan did 68%. On the other hand, in 2019, the former was 64% (11 points lower) and the latter was 65% (3 points lower).
      • Given that, I’m planning further research for the transition throughout Fuji’s and Rock In Japan’s entire history.

Then, is Japan’s gender equality in music festivals better than the US?

As seen above, Japan’s gender equality in the festivals’ lineup seems a bit better than the US. There might be many explanations for this, but I don’t have any clear opinion now.

Having said that, I am not so optimistic. It’s because Japan’s society as a whole seems very sexist. I’ve been disappointed at our society’s indifference to any kind of gender gap. (One of the most shocking news was this… worth reading. Two more Japanese medical schools admit discriminating against women | World news | The Guardian)

I think the gender ratio I mentioned above is a baseless and arbitrary consequence of the society’s indifference. Even though the score looks better than other countries, it doesn’t mean there’s less gender inequality in Japan. If we don’t consciously deal with the problem, it can be worse in the future.

Anyway, this is merely a score just calculated numbers on spreadsheets. A more precise analysis is needed. I hope this would motivate someone (and help me tidying data…).

Tables

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People In The Box, Kodomo Rengou (2018)

Honestly, I had very little knowledge about People In The Box until their latest Kodomo Rengou, which was released in February 2018. I was relatively new to today’s Japanese rock music ‘cuz I was crazy in dance music since the late ’00s. However, one of my friends strongly recommended the album, saying that it would be the album of the year. Then I tried listening and soon fell in love with it. I’ve listened to it over and over, even ignoring other new releases.

The album reminded me of some math-rock acts but it had a more physical and active groove. Rather than indulging in sweet and violent tones from the amplifiers, just as some bands do (oops, I don’t blame on them. just for comparison), they play riffs and rhythm patterns with strong clarity. From a note to note, I can hear their intention–how they want them to sound, how they want them to be. The interplay between melodies is dizzying yet compelling me to dance to it. I dare say that it’s like something fusing prog-rock, chamber music and afrobeat.

Their lyrics are also important. With quite simple vocabulary, they often depict the ordinary life around us, especially in Japan’s suburbs. Let me take “町A (Town A)” as an example. In its chorus, Hirofumi Hatano (Vo. & Guitar, who also writes all of their lyrics) sings like this: “huge mall, restaurant, public library, udon noodle stand, book store, bakery, housing, flower shop, ramen stand, shrine, temple, secondhand car shop, room with sunlight.” Most Japanese people may easily imagine such a tasteless landscape. It belongs nowhere, as the title suggests. It has no name. If anything, it can be everywhere. It might be my hometown, or else, someone’s hometown instead.

“This is not heaven, let alone a paradise. / However, this is not hell even. / One night after another / Say, a buffer zone or resting place between nights / This is not heaven; just my hometown” Hatano sings. Ok, this is certainly the mise-en-scene of our everyday life. But how strange, weird, and uncanny is this? It’s like the Brechtian theatre’s distancing effect. It’s pretty ambivalent that the album closes with a song named “僕は正気 (I AM sane)”. Are we still sober or losing our minds in this world?

Hatano deliberately manipulates words and depicts people’s inherent anxiety without any sentimental rhetorics. But it moves my mind so hard that I almost cry when I listen to “かみさま (God)” and “僕は正気”.

The tight groove of the ensemble, the complicated texture of the sound, and the lyrics’ peculiar poesy. This is obviously the best Japanese rock album of 2018.

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江沼郁弥 (ENUMA Fumiya), #1 (2018)

Enuma Fumiya’s #1 is his first full-length as a solo singer-songwriter. After the break-up of plenty in 2017, the introspective frontman of the band took some synths and a daw into his hands instead of the guitar. While plenty’s music was characterized by the shoegaze-like guitar noise with catchy melodies–say, very “indie” in a sense–the album was completely rid of such catharsis. It was like something between psychedelic folk and alternative r&b which could be compared to James Blake’s or Frank Ocean’s seminal works. I would say that he was finding another way to express his thought with a great delicacy. And he actually did it.

In the endless reverberation and infinite echoes, his voice tells us how he’s sad and desperate. This sadness once used to be quite dramatic and ecstatic especially when he was with his band, but now it’s more nuanced as he elaborates the sound design. Every sound of the album is deliberately modulated to express feelings that couldn’t be said with words. M9 “take my hands” is the best example I think. The guitar loop is granulated and pitch-shifted voices are haunting the entire song. The song sounds like memories suspended in the air, slowly falling into oblivion.

From this March, Enuma has released three singles which would be featured in the new album. These three songs, “うるせえんだよ”, “偽善からはじめよう”, and “積み木くずし” are more friendly in sound but much more pessimistic in words. FYI “うるせえんだよ” and “偽善からはじめよう” can be respectively translated like “Shut the fuck up” and “Let’s begin with hypocrisy”, both are very shocking as song’s name. However, while he sings about his distrust of the people and the impossibility of mutual understanding, he is also breaking the walls of creativity.

Enuma recently plays his show with a young and mysterious band 木 (ki), one of the most anticipated new comer in Japan. Among music lovers, they’re known for an eccentric and minimalistic approach with a definite pop sense. Their avant-garde pop rendered in a smooth R&B flavor, which is 木’s signature style, certainly resonates with Enuma’s solo works (check out the band’s debut EP Vi below). This collaboration is pretty fascinating to me. I’d like to watch their show someday this year.

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Tempalay, なんて素晴らしき世界 (Nante Subarashiki Sekai), 2018

When I found that RM (from BTS) was listening to Tempalay’s “どうしよう (dooshiyou)” I was very excited since it was one of my most favorite songs then. The song starts with slightly out-of-scale riffs which have a dislocating feeling. After a sudden glitchy edit, the band’s vocalist Ryoto Obara begins to sing with the mesmerizing guitar and the bold beat, embraced by their multi-instrumentalist AAAMYYY’s backing chorus. I was not satisfied with the cheesy vid but I couldn’t help watching it over and over and over. I thought RM might feel the same way as me.

Tempalay is a Japanese psychedelic rock band, whose music apparently resonates with the Aussie star band Tame Impala (oh, their names resembles each other btw). Raw, lo-fi, and strangely chill. Listening to them is like a lucid dream or a psychedelic trip without losing minds. The band was formed in 2014 and officially debuted in 2015 by the EP Instant Hawaii. It took only two years to take ‘em Austin, Texas to play at SXSW 2016. They’ve been so prolific that they’ve released three EPs and two full-length from 2015 to 2018, even they’re gonna release their third full-length 21世紀より愛をこめて (can be translated like From 21st century with love) this June.

なんて素晴らしき世界 (Nante Subarashiki Sekai, which means What a wonderful world) is their third EP which includes “どうしよう” the single mentioned above. As the original bass player Yuya Takeuchi left the band in 2018, the former support player AAAMYYY, who’s also known for her solo career as a beatmaker officially joined in. Since she was not a proper bass player (she mostly play samplers and synths) welcoming her in the band led them a more eclectic sound, featuring a variety of instruments and electronics. For example, “テレパシー (Telepathy)” has 808 in its verse, popping electronic sound effects in the chorus, and AAAMYYY’s rap is also featured in the bridge.

Moreover, you may hear more elaborate and tricky songwriting in songs like “SONIC WAVE”, which has a lot of sudden scene changes, or “Last Dance”, which heavily features metric modulations. Yes. The ensemble is pretty tight. The songs are well-written and playful. I bet their upcoming 21世紀より愛をこめて is gonna be their true breakthrough. Fortunately, they just released a single called “のめりこめ、震えろ。(Nomerikome, furuero.)”, roughly translated like “Lose yourself and shiver”. I’ll listen to it and lose myself as they ask me to do.

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Shohei Amimori and the Bacteria Collective’s show was pretty awesome. why don’t you invite them to play?

Last week I was at Shibuya WWWX to see Shohei Amimori’s show called “パタミュージッキング (patamusicking)” which was the release party for his 2018 album パタミュージック. The support acts, Kasanegi Wrist-band and Takuro Okada were both pretty awesome though, the most impressive act was, of course, the main one–Shohei Amimori and the Bacteria Collective.

They were gathered by Amimori to play the songs from the album which has very DAW-oriented post-production and sound processing. So I couldn’t imagine how it would be, even a little bit suspicious about that. Deliberately composed and edited, they have quite complex structures and it seemed to be almost impossible to play them live.

Despite its complexity, パタミュージック itself is quite playful and pop (sometimes terribly uncanny especially regarding their lyrics). Entirely, their melodies often remind me of background music for JRPG (e.g. M5 “ajabollamente” as well as the other songs) which now has lots of enthusiasts of the genre all over the world, including Thundercat, FlyLo, and Kode9. Or some songs have a certain kind of feeling that resembles Ambient / New Age music from the 80s (you can hear it in M7 “Biennale”), which is now also undergoing re-evaluation, as the massive compilation Kankyo Ongaku and its buzz shows us.

Amimori mixes up those musical heritages with his profound knowledge of musical history and peculiar aesthetic. While he has a very academic basis–he studied composition at Tokyo University of the Arts which is one of the most prestigious institutions in Japan–he can render it in the strangely pop atmosphere. It was already obvious in his first full-length SONASILE, which was rather experimental than pop while some songs featured friendly melodies in them. Two years later, in パタミュージック, he seemed that he was trying to criticize what the word “pop” meant to everyone in much more “pop” disguise. It was not to make “experimental” into “pop” (and vice versa). Rather, what this album tellin’ me is that being “pop” is the most sophisticated form of critique.

I had been fascinated during the entire show and almost losing my mind. Against my expectation, it was very physical and danceable. Since then I’ve been wondering why the audience was forced to sit down instead of dancing around the floor! The best moment was “Climb Downhill 1” performed in live. That was a stunning experience. As you can hear in it, the tempo is continually sped up throughout the song like a Shepard tone, which is continually ascending in pitch. Recently I learned that this kind of rhythm structure is called Risset rhythm.

The concept is very simple. For example, 160 bpm (beats per minute) can be interpreted as 80 bpm which is meant to be half-time, many trap things make use of this. Given that, just speeding up the tempo and when the bpm reaches a specific number slow it down to exact half bpm.

But, hey, this is easy to say, quite hard to do. When it comes to playing in live with numerous players this sounds almost crazy. However, the Bacteria Collective did make it thanks to their virtuosity and the modern technology (apparently they played along with the click via monitoring headphones). Moreover, it was pretty musical, joyful, and danceable. With the light effects it was spectacular that was worth to come to Tokyo from Yamagata (It took one night to go to Tokyo in the bus. If you use Shinkansen express, you can go there in three hours tho…).

I strongly recommend Shohei Amimori’s works and his performance. For foreign audience it would be the next Cornelius or something like that. Listen to his work from above Spotify link and embedded vids.

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Perfume, Future Pop (2018)

Since their breakthrough “ポリリズム (polyrhythm)” in 2007, Perfume has grown up from a “kawaii” futuristic electro-pop idol to one of Japan’s most popular and fascinating pop act. They just made their first major appearance at Coachella last weekend and highly appreciated (even Rolling Stone named them as one of the best acts at Coachella). It seems that their performance in the second weekend will be streamed via YouTube. It’ll be worth watching for their performance will show you the sophisticated side of J-POP: the ensemble of their spontaneous charm, skillful choreography by MIKIKO, and cutting-edge tech effects by Rhizomatics.

Let me introduce them a bit more. With Nakata Yasutaka, who’s the most prolific Japanese producer in this decade, Perfume played an essential role in the recent J-POP scene. From electro-influenced dance pop (oh, I miss that blog-house era…) to EDM-like banger, they introduced the ethos of dance music to J-POP in a very challenging way.

For example, their hit “ポリリズム” which I mentioned above has an eccentric twist in the bridge where top notes progress in 5/4 time (it is repetition of the word “polyrhythm” for in Japanese the word “polyrhythm” has five syllables like “po-lee-lee-zoo-moo”) on the four-on-the-floor beat. Literally, it’s a kind of polyrhythm. It is said that their record company rejected this idea for it’s too much for the listeners but Nakata insisted that this is essential to the song since it’s calling itself “polyrhythm”. It was not just a funny idea. Rather it’s a challenge to the norm.

Future Pop, their latest album released in the summer of 2018, was also challenging when it came to song structure. It featured “drop”-type hook, which was not so popular in Japan. Around 2016 the Chainsmokers and other EDM-oriented producers began to use “drop” as a new way to make a hook in a song. Usually, hooks (or chorus in the more traditional way) feature an earworm melody and impressive lyrics. In contrast, “drop”-type hooks prefer bright synth-leads or heavy bass lines to vocals. You can hear it in the Chainsmokers’ “Closer feat. Halsey”, their biggest hit.

Hooks without singing. Since Japanese people really like to sing and listen to singing, this seemed not to be favored. However, they actually made it. It’s because they are not only singers but distinguished dancers. As I mentioned above they are known for their very sophisticated stage performance. So their fans soon understood what these “drop”-type hooks meant to them. Also, in these two or three years EDM has become much popular in Japan thanks to the growing festival culture and the rise of young producers (in addition, EDM-oriented songwriting in K-POP is of course one of main influence).

Curiously, although Perfume was often described as “EDM” for their song featured supersaw leads, plucky synths, and heavy kick drums, in terms of song structure they were quite J-POP. In this sense, Future Pop is their first proper “EDM” album. But this doesn’t mean they will be an EDM band forever. Soon they will find the next challenge and surprise us.

Well, before it, I’d better watch them performing at Coachella this weekend on the couch with some snack.

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Kid Fresino, ài qing (2018)

While Asian-American hip-hop collective 88rising’s making a viral sensation around the world and K-POP acts like BTS or BLACKPINK are going into the U.S. market with hip-hop oriented imagery, the underground hip-hop scenes around Eastern Asia has been quite interesting for years. Throughout several cities in Japan, maybe especially Tokyo, the new generation of hip-hop acts is emerging and changing the game.

Kid Fresino began his career as a producer and DJ for hip-hop group Fla$hBacks in 2013. Soon he also started to rap and released his own solo works in parallel with the group. Switching Japanese and English alternately, he spits verses in a sticky, slightly off-the-pocket but groovy manner. He’s been known for being prolific as both producer and rapper (lots of guest appearances and collaboration such as Somewhere, a double name album with the Nagoya-based rapper C.O.S.A.) but since returning to Japan from a few years stay in NY he turned his direction a bit.

In 2017, as he moved back to Tokyo he formed a band with talented instrumental players. With the band, he’s been exploring a more genre-bending approach since then, which was first accomplished in the EP Salve (2017) and this first step led him to the singular sound of ài qing. The band’s members are now Jungo Miura (Ba., from PETROLZ), Yusaku Sato (Key. etc.), Shun Ishiwaka (Dr.) and Utena Kobayashi (Perc.). As they are all highly regarded players in their own field, this band certainly deserves to be called a “super band”.

In contrast to Salve which was full of pretty smooth, neo-soul like tracks, ài qing opens with the very complex polyrhythmic tune “Coincidence”. Although the members of the band are heavily influenced by and trained in contemporary Jazz, it sounds much more solid like prog- or post-rock things. Here, Kid Fresino takes a unique approach that is a bit different from the sort of post-Soulquarians style ensemble. You can hear it in five out of thirteen tracks in this album, “Coincidence”, M5 “Winston”, M6 “CNW”, M9 “not nightmare”, M11 “Nothing is still”.

On the other hand, this album features beats from cutting-edge electronic music producers in Japan including Seiho and Kenmochi Hidefumi (Wednesday Campanella) along with the hip-hop artisan BACHLOGIC, the bright new comer VaVa, and Kid Fresino himself. Futuristic bangers by Seiho are indeed my favorites, particularly M7 “Fool me twice” featuring 5lack has a tense atmosphere in its minimalistic sound design. Kid Fresino and Seiho keep on working together and recently, they released “720” which is a rather short but def banger with acid synths and breakbeats.

Of course, the other featured rappers, NENE and Ryugo Ishida from Yurufuwa Gang, Chinza Dopeness, Campanella, ISSUGI, C.O.S.A., JJJ shows how unique talents are now in Japan’s hip-hop scene. If you’re interested in Japanese hip-hop, you can dig into it through this album and featured rappers.

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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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