Chappie – New Chappie – 4/5
It may have seemed that my interest in shibuya-kei had disappeared, but that's not really true. Given that it was a relatively small local scene limited to a single ward in Tokyo, Japan, there are simply a limited number of artists that sprung into existence, and even fewer that made enough of an impact for me to readily discover. And even of those that did grab my attention, many of which had long since disbanded leaving behind a legacy of just a handful of releases out of print for many years and simply impossible to obtain. Such was the case with this artist (which thanks to the folks at JpopSuki I finally managed to get my grubby mitts on), which I had discovered early on in my exploration, a creation of the design company 'Groovisions' named after their trademark doll (no, I'm not really sure how it all fits in) that makes use of their staff to provide the vocals.
Much of the way this manages to succeed is down to the manner in which its worked into the composition, it's frequently choral nature and focus on the boisterous electronic backing tone drawing the attention away from any nuances in the voice, the production work invested in creating a simple pitch-perfect melody with clearly defined transitions. The music of Chappie is – as you might expect from a collaborative effort – rather varied in its style, with an obvious tendency towards Shibuya-Kei, each track in this solitary effort demonstrates a glorious diversity from that which preceded it. Sadly, this fact doesn't come without its own set of problems. If you were expecting a great deal of coherency between the tracks on show you may come to be disappointed is much of it plays out like a collection of singles lumped together to form a release.
The result is nothing if not perhaps slightly inconsistent. With such a variety there are naturally some tracks to prefer over others; some tracks are kept short and snappy and you wish they'd revisit more often, whilst others sound rather more basic and simplistic and at times come close to overstaying their welcome. Then there's that track that sounds like it may well be a cover of the Jackson 5's “ABC” which is just plain bizarre and one that often finds itself being skipped, and yet despite this turbulent track listing there are far more diamonds than duds on display and whilst you might occasionally tune out for a sub-par track, it still manages to captivate my attention rather well.
Highlights: Welcome Morning, Track 5, The International Chappie's Cheer-leading Team