sora tob sakana – Cocoon EP | Review

Release Date: April 11th
Format: CD, Digital
Label: Flying Penguin Records


Sora tob sakana explores deeper emotions and atmospheric soundscapes in this record, and it works wonders


Following the highly praised debut record that made 2016 considerably better for the Idol scene, Idol unit Sora tob sakana is back with a new release that takes the form of a six-tracks extended play titled “Cocoon EP“.

Well known and beloved in the underground niche for their talented production team and classy concept, sora tob sakana shown a rock-solid structure in every aspect so far; their self-titled debut record showcased impressive technical prowess, with compositions that made the classic patterns of Math Rock the core of the unit’s sound, while framing it with the flashiness of Synth-pop.

Cocoon EP” doesn’t get too far from the original formula, yet it ventures towards a melancholic and overall more atmospheric direction, an artistic choice that well fits the sound of the unit. The record sets the bar high immediately with “ribbon“, one of the most emotional and genuinely beautiful tracks the unit ever had, a perfect fusion of sounds enriched with atmospheric soundscapes, that gains even more pathos if coupled with the beautiful Music Video. The following “Time machine ni Sayonara” lifts the mood up (maybe a little too much), but it’s more of an isolated case when put in the context of the record, as the unit keeps on experimenting with different vibes without sacrificing cohesiveness. The common thread in “Cocoon EP” mostly lies in the adaptation of the unit’s trademark technique applied to Electronic influences – something that’s especially noticeable in the rhythmic department – and merges it with delicate guitar melodies and occasional aggressive riffs, kinda reverting the roles of the two sides composing Sakana’s sound. It’s a different and smart take on the same formula, featuring a slightly different mood that works wonders when coupled with the girls’ vocals, that bring good interpretation and more relevant vocal lines.

Cocoon EP” is a strong successor to sora tob sakana’s outstanding debut record, that delivers the same valid formula in a more refined and slightly different way. Another solid and well-crafted release not to miss.

– Alex

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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