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!