CHARAN PO RANTAN – Rose Balkan | Vinyl Overview and Artist profile

If you follow the Japanese music scene, you know there’s a pretty impressive amount of artists who mix up different (and, sometimes, apparently unrelated) genres together. It’s a refreshing approach that can lead to interesting results, and while it doesn’t necessarily always work, when it does, it’s a sign of great talent. It’s the case of CHARAN PO RANTAN, a duo composed by sisters Momo and Koharu, but this time it’s something you can’t find anywhere else in the Japanese scenes… it’s actually something pretty unique. And it’s clear since the beginning, when you press the Play button and their compilation album Rose Balkan: these girls are pretty unique.

CHARAN PO RANTAN is indeed a duo that takes typical east-European folk music, mostly Klezmer and gipsy tunes, and perfectly mixes them up with Japanese vocals that would sound totally at home in J-pop’s mainstream scene. The result, in all honesty, is totally amazing, a perfectly working engine fueled by the chemistry between Koharu’s accordion and Momo’s voice. While on paper the sound is certainly aimed to an audience with precise tastes, the reality is that the duo’s music can be easily enjoyed by pretty much anyone, thanks to catchy and well-built melodies framed in a friendly structure, that highlights each section with great emphasis.

After all, the talent of the two sisters is no news: Koharu’s skills with the accordion have even been noticed by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, and Momo’s remarkable versatility in singing is a fundamental element of the group’s sound. This sonic (and cultural) balance has granted the duo an overseas fanbase as well, with performances in England, Canada, U.S. and a few gigs at Austin’s SXSW festival, that exposed Koharu and Momo’s talent to a global scale.

CHARAN PO RANTAN is surely one of the most unique Japanese outfits out there, and their talent in merging such different cultures together is something truly remarkable, showcasing not only the talent, but also the respect the two sisters have towards the culture imprinted in their music.

I recently got my hands on CHARAN PO RANTAN’s vinyl Rose Balkan, a compilation album with some of the best and most acclaimed tunes from the duo, thanks to the guys at Specific recordings, who kindly sent me a press copy of the record. Gotta be honest: this thing looks beautiful, from the cover, to the color of the vinyl that genuinely made me happy, because I didn’t know I needed a pink vinyl in my life until now. This new vinyl will be available on the Specific Recordings shop starting April 22nd, and as you can see from the pics, it also features a CD and a Digital download code.

That’s it guys. As you know, I’m always up to support overseas labels trying to spread Japanese music in the world, and I think it’s important to recognize their great work. So if you love Japanese music… support the artists and the labels bringing these records to us!

– Alex

TeddyLoid just killed Aina’s voice, and I can’t stand it.

TeddyLoid. This guy.

After releasing one of the worst Japanese albums of the last few years, a senseless chaotic mess that goes by the name of Silent Planet, the young producer had the worst possible idea: make a followup to that mess of a record. And, of course, it’s not that he got better or anything, since the only thing he apparently did in recent times is to act like he’s the new Tetsuya Komuro or Yasutaka Nakata, when his actual greatest accomplishment was updating his twitter profile pic.

So, of course, I stopped caring about this guy. He kept releasing trash, like that DAOKO track (a girl that apparently only tofubeats cared to valorize properly), while showing signs of a chronic disease, that makes him act cool by adopting a musical direction that died a long time ago, that “”dubstep”” Japan briefly adopted in its mainstream circles and then immediately dropped because, well, it was already too late when they realized it was even a thing.

Then this morning, while I was painting a wooden window as the good Italian low-paid craftsman I am, I received a notification on Facebook: a friend of mine posted a video on a group I follow: it’s a new TeddyLoid video. Fine, another trash song I can avoid. Then I look closely at my phone and I notice “feat. Aina The End (BiSH)“.

No way. What the hell is going on. Jesus Christ, the wooden window can wait. But not Aina.

Guys. Seriously. This is the most embarrassing, pathetic, obsolete, forced piece-of-shit track I listened in a long time. Yes, TO THE END is the same TeddyLoid stuff. This guy is stuck in a time capsule from 2010 or something. The wubz. Guys, THE WUBZZZ. Not even Skrillex does that shit anymore, because it was already old when HE started doing it.

But that’s not new with TeddyLoid. He’s pretty much the only guy on this planet that thinks “”dubstep”” is still a cool mainstream genre that’s selling. And even outside those moments, the rest of the track just sounds old, repetitive, and genuinely bad. It truly gave me an headache, and I listened to it like, what, three times maybe?

But here comes the real problem: Aina. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love this girl, I love her to death. She has a wonderful voice, great interpretation, strong charisma, and a personality that flows through every note she sings. She’s a great dancer too. And that’s why it hurts so bad. Because her talent went completely wasted with this track.

This fucking dude vocoded the shit out of her voice. Yes, he DIGITALLY ALTERED Aina’s voice, making it unrecognizable. It sounds bad. It kills all her personality, charisma, talent, everything. I don’t wanna sound like a fanboy asshole, even though I probably am, and it surely isn’t the first time something like this happens in the history of music, but I can’t stand this on a personal level. It’s terrible. It’s like autotuning Bruce Dickinson’s voice: Who the fuck would even think of something like that? No one. (that’s not a comparison of course).

TeddyLoid’s got a big problem: he can’t valorize nor adapt to the artists he collaborates with. He literally butchers their talent. Everything from Silent Planet on, when he basically started to have the right connections to the right artists, was a clear proof of this. If you choose an artist, you have to be sure you can get the best out of him/her to reach your vision as producer, not killing their talent and personality to just do whatever you feel like doing to be cool, cause the result is gonna be terrible, and you’re definitely not going out as the cool producer you think you are. And no, I’m no producer myself: it’s history that proves how this approach is just wrong.

I genuinely think TeddyLoid is one of the worst and most overrated producers I ever heard. He’s all smoke and no fire, making himself big with other artists’ names, while killing their talent in the process. Honestly, I’d rather listen to my dog barking at my neighbor than listening to this track. I’m just sad I had to see this excruciating process apply to one of my favorite singers of the Alt Idol scene.

TeddyLoid. This guy. He would sure as hell be more talented at painting this wooden window than making music.

– Alex

NECRONOMIDOL – DEATHLESS | ALBUM REVIEW

deathlessdigitalcover

Release Date: February 21st, 2017
Label: VELOCITRON
Format: CD, Digital


NECRONOMIDOL’s new album is a journey through darkness not to miss

One of the best things to witness in music, is without a doubt the progression of an artist as it makes its way through different stages of its career. It begins with a concept in mind, followed by experimentation to find the right balance and sound, and then to its conquest.

The “ultra-dark” Idol Unit NECRONOMIDOL is a clear example of this progression. Kicked off in 2014, the project led by producer Richard Wilson made waves in the Alternative Idol niche for its dark and fascinating concept, reflected in a formula that mixed up extreme metal influences with Idol pop bits, in a way that felt natural for the first time ever. From the beginning, the five girls and their team never stopped to improve their formula and build a strong identity: if the unit’s debut album NEMESIS was mostly a compilation of tracks showcasing the initial experimentations of the project, and last year’s EP from chaos born a strong proof of its ability in mixing up different genres, DEATHLESS is the consolidation of the unit’s sound we’ve been waiting for… and not only.

NECRONOMIDOL’s new record is indeed a noticeable improvement in every aspect: the opener END OF DAYS immediately highlights a production that’s much more cleaner and crystalline than before, highlighting dark vibes brought by blast beats and power chords, that coupled with the girls’ delicate and sinister vocals, make this track a perfect opener that showcases the unit’s personality with success. The album’s main achievement, though, lies in the improved fusion between Metal and Electronic influences, that reach an almost perfect balance here: tracks like 4.7L, SKULLS IN THE STARS, and CHUNGKING REDLINE make the mood of the record lighter thanks to Electronic beats and synths, but never go too far on the cheesy side, successfully keeping the dark vibe floating around, and creating a connection between the eight tracks composing the album. The general flow obviously benefits from such a detailed and well structured production, and now more than ever it feels cohesive and solid. Even tracks that follow a precise pattern, like the ballad HEXENNACHT (featuring a nice contrast between Electronic percussions and classic piano strings, first time I didn’t fall asleep on a ballad in a while) and the album closer ITHAQA, loosen the grip on the technical side while elevating the atmospheric factor, with the latter track in particular shining for its catchiness.

With DEATHLESS, NECRONOMIDOL ultimately consolidate their sound, making it more enjoyable than ever. This record is their strongest and most cohesive to date, and it manages to be various while keeping its core personality intact, flowing greatly throughout its eight tracks. The improved production quality and mixing is a big plus too, and makes both the girls’ vocals and instrumentals sound better than ever. All this, and the clear effort that the unit and its team put into this record, makes DEATHLESS Necroma’s best album to date.

Vote: 8.5 / 10

– Alex


NECRONOMIDOL’s new album DEATHLESS will be available in Japanese stores on February 21st, and also worldwide (digitally) on Bandcamp.

Sora tob sakana kicks off 2017 with new track ‘Yakan Hikō’

senza-titolo-2

Happy new year my friends! Hope you had a nice time during the holidays. I hate holidays, so I’m glad they’re over.

I’m happy to be back here on the blog to write about great Japanese music again. And what better way to kick off Land of the Rising Sound’s 2017 with one of the most surprising artists from last year?

If you read the TOP 5 of my favorite Japanese albums of 2016, you know Alt Idol outfit sora tob sakana rocked the scene hard last year; their first self-titled record was an incredibly good piece of work, with a fresh mixture of Post-rock and Electronic music as highlight, also framed by great vocal lines provided by the four young girls composing this unit, that’s finally taking off after two years of activities.

Sora tob sakana is riding the wave of the popularity boost received from last year’s record, performing live on a regular basis, and, obviously, dropping new music. The unit’s new song Yakan Hikō, premiered live just a few days ago, is indeed now available to listen on Soundcloud, and it’s pretty much everything I was expecting… which is a good thing.

Yakan Hikō pretty much revolves around the formula that made the first album so good, but gives it a new shape and vibe at the same time. Aiming for more atmospheric soundscapes, the track gives more space to layers of synth, while keeping the melodic goodness typical of the Terui Yoshimasa productions slightly distant, but still close enough to give that touch of pleasant catchiness.

I really like this track, and I’m looking forward to more music from sora tob sakana. Their music and live presence is just great, and even people who aren’t really into Idol music in general, are starting to appreciate this unit, which is a great accomplishment for these girls. Hopefully we’ll get to talk about them more often in the future!

– Alex

TOP 5 | My favorite Japanese records of 2016

Yes, I know this should have been a Top 10 list. But in the end, I just wanted to make a list of the albums that I personally enjoyed A LOT, the ones I still listen to this day on a regular basis. And while there are several records that I enjoyed in this rich year for Japanese music, here are the ones that I feel like you shouldn’t absolutely miss.

Let’s get started!


Soutaiseiriron – Tensei Jingle

bdrm63tkwskp_t

One of the most enjoyable J-pop records of the year, Soutaiseriron‘s Tensei Jingle is a pleasant experience that’s deep yet incredibly catchy. The band sounds fresher than ever, with dreamy guitar melodies floating on top of strong rhythmic patterns and electronic bits adding all the necessary atmosphere to make this record incredibly charismatic. This formula mutates throughout the entire tracklist, granting variousness and exposing the myriad of details composing this record, that just gets better listen after listen. Truly a rewarding experience, and a record not to miss.

[READ MY REVIEW]


Seiko Oomori – TOKYO BLACK HOLE

seiko-oomori-black-hole-firstinfo-02

If 2015 was mostly a transition period for Seiko Oomori in the mainstream scene, 2016 is the year she conquered it. TOKYO BLACK HOLE is a collection of solid J-pop numbers, contaminated by different influences at the service of Seiko’s relentless will of expressing herself in so many different ways. This grants a various array of vibes and sounds, spacing from Electronic and Rock to Idol pop and Symphonic elements, who enrich her trademark sound without overshadowing it. And in its complex, sometimes intrigued textures, TOKYO BLACK HOLE manages to be incredibly catchy and enjoyable, forming a collection of masterful J-pop numbers, where you never know what’s gonna happen next. Seiko Oomori always puts her heart and soul in music, and this time she overdid herself, and this is why this album is so good and enjoyable. Definitely one of the highlights of this year.

[READ MY REVIEW]


Mono – Requiem For Hell

a2637567525_10

Post-rock masters MONO come back in the scene with one of the most heartfelt records of the year, conveying strong emotions through their unique sound developed in almost two decades of honorable career.

Requiem for Hell is a journey through powerful vibes and vivid emotions, that leak from each of the five tracks composing this dark and beautiful piece of work. Looking back at the group’s catalogue, this record definitely stands out for its darker personality, occasionally flirting with Post-metal influences, yet it manages to be somehow calm and soothing in a unique way. And that’s really what this album is all about: the balance of emotions, the portrait of life and death, of pain and relief, of happiness and sadness. A beautiful and haunting experience not to miss.

[READ MY REVIEW]


Sora Tob Sakana – Sora Tob Sakana

album-cover-copia

2016 was a strong year for the Alterative Idol niche, with groups of the likes of BiSH rising in the mainstream scene, and others surfacing with convincing concepts and strong personality. In the midst of a niche that gets more and more crowded, though, sora tob sakana shine the most for their unique approach to Idol music, showcasing a fresh and bright concept (contrary to most groups) made of extremely technical Math Rock numbers. Their self-titled debut record made this year’s spring even brighter, featuring a collection of numbers where melodic Math Rock gets permeated by masterfully placed Electronic moments and great vocal lines, showcasing a solid personality. This is a great record not only for the Idol aficionados, but for anyone who’s looking for accessible yet deeply technical music that’s easy to enjoy in any context. Definitely one of the greatest surprises of 2016.

[READ MY REVIEW, coming soon, listen in the meantime]


Zombie-chang – Zombie-change

zombie_change1

One of the uprising acts in the Indie scene, Meirin Yung (aka Zombie Chang) is surely an artist that grabbed the attention for her charismatic, self-produced music. Started off as a rapper, the young artist took an Electronic turn this year with her record Zombie-Change… and boy was it surprising. Meirin’s take on Electronic music has kind of a retro taste to it, but it manages to sound fresh at the same time, with redundant melodies and beats filled with unexpected twists and turns that create a various and enjoyable experience. Hands-down my favorite Electronic album of the year, that I feel like suggesting to anyone looking for a raw and very spontaneous record.

[LISTEN]


Honorable Mentions:

Shiggy JR. – All About Pop (J-pop)
Bokutachi no iru tokoru. – Gomi (J-rock)
Oyasumi Hologram – 2 (Alternative Idol) [REVIEW]
Necronomidol – from chaos born (Alternative Idol) [REVIEW] 
Jun Togawa w/ Vampillia – Watashi ga Nakou Hototogisu

Best MV | lyrical school, run and run
Greatest surprise | FAMM’IN – circle [REVIEW AND ARTICLE]
Personal favorite song | Sakanaction – Tabun, kaze [IMPRESSIONS]


Hope you will enjoy these records! Be sure to leave your impressions in the comments!

Happy Holidays and… I’ll see you guys in 2017 😉

– Alex

VLOG | Best Japanese Albums of November 2016, and future releases!

Can you believe this? I made a new video! After more than a year!

I woke up this morning, and realized there are way too many great albums that got released in November, and many more promising ones in this last month of 2016. It’d take a 10,000 words article to talk about all this, so… I just made a VLOG 😛

Be sure to check out the video above to get a grasp of all the best and most interesting records of the last month, plus new exciting releases that will hit the shelves of Japanese stores in the next weeks.

I’m terribly sorry for my broken english, my mumbling, and my terrible Italian accent, but as you know, I haven’t been recording a video for quite a long time, so please bear with me!

Please let me know if you would like me to do more videos like this one 🙂

Love ya

– Alex

BiS – Brand New Idol Society 2 | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

bis

You know I love the Alternative Idol scene. Well, damn, I just love Idols in general. So how could I miss the chance to review the comeback record of one of the most influential groups of this niche, and of the Japanese music industry as a whole?

Brand New Idol Society 2 is a record that features both old, re-record classics from the controversial career of the unit, and new songs as well, spicing things up with different influences and entertaining both long-time fans and newcomers alike.

This is a fun and very enjoyable Pop-punk/rock record that I recommend to everyone to get a grasp of what BiS and the Alternative Idol scene is all about. Like it or not, this group of relentless girls shook things up six years ago, and exposed many controversial issues of Japan’s society and music scene. Definitely check it out, and be sure to read my review down here on Electric Bloom Webzine!

Read my review of BiS’ Brand New Idol Society 2 on Electric Bloom Webzine!

See you soon with more reviews and… videos?

– Alex

BOMI comes back with new track 「A_B」, and it’s just plain good

J-pop singer/songwriter (and also model) BOMI is back with a new Music Video for her new track, A_B. And boy, is it one of the nicest tracks I’ve heard lately.

A_B is good and accessible Japanese Electro-pop as it gets. Building up on a linear structure, a solid beat with a 80’s touch is coupled by delicate electric synth, that get stretched in the bridge to lead to a wonderfully catchy chorus. While the instrumental makes a great job in being accessible and very well detailed, BOMI’s vocals are the highlight of the track, exposing melodies that give a boost to the overall catchiness of the track. The Music Video, too, features some very nice CG touches, that create a nice contrast to the overall simple but effective direction.

With A_B, BOMI comes back with a nice, upbeat and catchy Synth-pop track that will make your day nicer. Be sure to check out the MV at the top of the article!

– Alex