Low-fi Japanese folktronica. Gorgeous and beguiling...
Chris Jones 2007-08-31
It would be so easy to just write ‘ambient Japanese folktronica with occasional cutesy vocals’ and have done with it. But frankly, such dismissive generalising ill-serves this wonderful duo.
It sounds clichéd, but this album could only have been made in Japan. Always at the forefront of this kind of faux-naivety, for some reason geographical distance allows the country to blend ancient and modern like no other, mixing in a strange mutation of early 20th century Americana. Totemo Aimasho (it loosely translates as ‘let’s meet very much’) reminds one of the work of Sohichiro Suzuki.
For several years his World Standard have been fusing ragtime, folk, electronica with, again, that indefinable aura of cuteness that’s never cloying, to make something wholly original. In fact this album is most like one of one of his other side-projects: Ram’s Home Family Love; where dustbowl skiffle aesthetics met ones and noughts.
Tenniscoats (vocalist Saya and multi-instrumentalist, Takashi Ueno) have, for several years, been collaborating with various avant gardists to create exquisite blends of floating guitar, parping brass and little girl lost vocals. Close-miked acoustics rub up against the field recordings of Lawrence English on tracks like “Donna Donna” and “Hirei” while the smooth tones of “Aurora Curtains” remind one of the more Northern European tropes of nu jazz and Enoesque washes.
It all comes wrapped in a beautiful sleeve that furthers label Room 40’s growing reputation for leftfield work that is as much about aesthetics as sound. Gorgeous…