East New Sound – Lyrical Crimson – 3/5
I sometimes feel I have to bite the bullet; reviewing whatever genres happen to be interesting me at that time can land me with some rather ‘unusual’ choices for what is primarily a metal blog. Whilst my fascination with Shibuya-Kei has finally waned somewhat for the shores of Death/Grind (of all things) my interest for Japanese music continues with my latest obsession. Have you ever wondered what the soundtrack for Touhou (an underground series of Japanese games) would sound like if remixed to sound like trance? Actually, on second thoughts don’t answer that, but don’t dismiss this out of hand either. I may have already landed a bad impression on you to begin with but this isn’t your standard style of trance here, it feels varied and dare I say it, intelligent.
Yes, there is still a core sound that relies on being fun, bouncy and ultimately danceable; two interchanging simplistic electronic patterns of notes repeated at high speed for the entire track length, complemented contently by a drummer given two drums and a cymbal to hit with all the finesse of a small chimp desperately trying to break the skin for some fruit inside, and whilst I wouldn’t reprimand an artist for just being bland and unoriginal, there are plenty such artists that could have perked my ears. What makes this artist special is everything else that comes with it; each track like a bland chicken leg cooked with some new variety of spices that constantly keep things interesting, in keeping with my bad metaphor, it’s simply a shame that not every spice is suited to the occasion.
The main source of variation inevitably comes from the vocals, this being a large group of musicians and vocals often being the natural profession of the talentless (anyone can sing, very few can sing well), to say there are some ‘interesting’ results here would be an understatement. With perhaps half a dozen vocalists in total there is a case for taking the good with the bad, the atrocities of lone male vocalist in “Ten Made to do Key” that begs to be skipped along with the warbly lyrical styles that precede it, offset by the unusually melodic “Together in the Sky” and the track preceding that. But the tracks individuality doesn’t end here; combining all this with somewhat meandering musical interludes ranging from neo-classical piano work, simple guitar riffs and Electronica ‘solos.’
This still doesn’t grant it unbridled creativity, and even if it did there are plenty of elements that still sound pretty awful. It’s those tracks where everything works; the backing beat remains undeniably addictive, layered with dream-like pop vocals wafting through the haze of hard-hitting beats and perfectly suited interludes, this is what drew me in and what continues to entertain. This wont be the music to change your opinion of the genre but at least temporarily, I’m smitten.
Highlights: Cryu, Together in the Sky, Track 11