Strawberry Machine – Crazy Kilt – 4/5
Let me take you on a journey through time and space, to the land of the Strawberry Machine. You are Pac-Man, running away from brightly coloured men in sheets whilst eating copious amounts of ecstasy found on the floor of the dark alleys. You are Mario, eating magic mushrooms, imagining yourself growing to twice your normal height, playfully jumping up and down on various animals on the street. You don’t remember quite when you left the ground behind, but as you float on top of the clouds, watching as life passes you by an a haze of Technicolor, you stop caring about such matters. This is the soundtrack to such a journey, confusing yet carefree psychedelic tones washed over with colourful drifting vocals and an 8-bit backing.
In truth, I’m not entirely sure how I can explain this music any better than that opening paragraph. Slotting nicely into that whacky genre called ‘Shibuya-Kei’ (first emerging from the Shibuya area of Japan), it combines acid jazz with trance to create a psychedelic dream-like soundscape, happy and oozing of atmospheric calm as the cute energetic vocals caressingly waft over, letting your mind drift off to a place of the giant miniature hamster called boo, and pink elephants flying amongst the birds. Combining this with the very distinctive ‘8-bit’ sound, like that heard on old games consoles such as the Amiga, Game Boy or Mega Drive, this lends a very retro feel to the piece, often acting as a drum machine to create an energetic and boisterous backbeat to bounce along to whilst the other instrumentation takes hold.
And with an array of acoustic guitars, drum machines, keyboards, xylophones and other instruments hazily layered subtly in the background, it creates a neverending variety of tempos, beats and styles – almost every track produced by someone different, lending an oddly fitting jarring between tracks, each one giving you a slightly different acid trip – and yet each track feels somehow driven by the pop-like vocals. Less ‘catchy’ and more addictive in the manner they are sung, the entire album may only be 30 mins long, and yet I’m somehow compelled to keep listening. So as I sit here on my cloud, watching as Princess Peach is kidnapped again, I lean back and drift to the innocent voice of a freckled school girl, playfully kicking her legs over the side, singing whatever comes to mind. So this is what LSD sounds like…
Highlights: ‘Chiisana Ouchi,’ ‘Twinkle of the Stars, Little Stars, Shining Stars,’ ‘The Roomnumber is 3021,’ ‘Melon Soda’