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Old 2012.01.17, 07:19 PM   #41
FadedSun
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Originally Posted by ShadyNook View Post

Also, I dont feel as bad as I did initially when I heard they were breaking up after hearing Color Bars. I think the songwriters will have more success and freedom in their own respective bands than they did together as Tokyo Jihen.
This is a really good EP ,and I think a good way for them to go out. The songs didn't sound stagnant or that they lacked creativity. I also agree with what you said above. It seemed like they got stuck in a rut towards the end, so this is all for the best.
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Old 2012.01.17, 07:21 PM   #42
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Anyone check the stats on the Japanese iTunes? EP's being pretty well received (4.5/5) and apparently Time Capsule > sa_i_ta > Karasawagi > Horror Dust ~ Tokoro in popularity =/

Granted, it's probably a small portion of fans but it's always cool to check out early responses.
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Old 2012.01.17, 07:48 PM   #43
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So here we are, reviewing Tokyo Jihen’s latest EP, Color Bars. The release I was all too excited to skip. After being contently lulled away with Sports and Dai-Hakken, I was finally resigned to let Tokyo Jihen go. Except they had beat me to the punch and were letting themselves go. Announcing their break-up (over a year in the making) weeks before the release, I couldn’t help but think back to their original announcement of establishment and the promise the band held for a while. Well shit, now I guess I have to listen to this thing.

Color Bars and the story of Tokyo Jihen’s end go hand-in-hand, so let’s dwell on the break up. The seeds of disbandment were apparently planted following Shiina Ringo’s 4th album, Sanmon Gossip. There were some rumbling and grumblings supposedly coming from her bandmates over the album. Was it the extra hiatus from the band? Shiina’s own content on the album? I don’t know, but around that time recordings from Petrolz and Appa (Ukigumo and Izawa’s bands) surfaced which raised the communal question for the fanbase: was the band better apart? True, Tokyo Jihen ultimately never could quite pull it together. – Correction – they did actually develop a unique sound as a unit, it just never yielded anything as interesting as what Shiina, Petrolz or Appa put out previously. Was it a product of Japanese culture, promoting the collective over the individual, or was it aiming at a demographic with more cash to spend? Personally, I’d wager the latter, but that’s just conjecture.

What I hear on Color Bars is the dissolution of the band. We start off with a song that sounds archetypically “Tokyo Jihen” and finish with a song that accentuates one individual. As a first for the band, every member gets a writing credit. The EP starts with the Shiina Ringo-penned “Konya wa Karasawagi” and as previously mentioned, sounds most similar to Tokyo Jihen’s previous work. If that’s your bag, then you might get some mileage out of it, but I find virtually every other track more interesting. It has that retro-lounge feel, but this time made snappier, and is at least an improvement. The more I think about it, it probably as far as the band could have gone with this sound, excepting the killer “Himitsu” from Adult.

The EP then shifts into the darker “Kai-horrordust.” Sung by Izawa, the song sounds reminiscent of what could be found on Appa’s Rashipoki. There are still flanges and badges to remind the listener that this is still Tokyo Jihen, but it is the most Appa-sounding song in the Jihen catalog with big and dark sounds mixed with poppy rhythms and beats. Following that is Kameda’s ultra-sappy “Time Capsule.” I’m sure you didn’t need me to tell you that Kameda wrote this, it has his touches everywhere. Soaring, sweeping, and sentimental. The most traditional of the songs here and that’s what Kameda does best. What he brings to the table might not always sound “fresh and new” but he always does it exceptionally well. The song is at the heart of Color Bars, and that feels right. Kameda is dependably the heart of the band. Here Shiina brings out some of the best vocals we’ve heard in years. In fact, the song doesn’t even sound out of place in her own catalog, telling me that Kameda understands the “Shiina Ringo sound” maybe even better than Shiina Ringo.

Sa_i_ta is Ukigumo’s offering this time around. Unlike Izawa’s, I wouldn’t say it sounded similar to Petrolz – but nor does it particularly sound like Jihen. There’s an interesting grumbling, almost droney, bass crawling underneath the track as it builds from atmospheric and empty into a disco beat chorus. In that respect, it’s a less goofy Mirrorball, but decidedly better.

The EP concludes with the debut writing credit (for the band at least) of drummer Hata Toshiki, “Honto no Tokoro.” And what a first impression it is! Not only does he write, but takes the mic and bleats out the strained, raw vocals. The most passionate singing since Dynamite Out (or “Tegami.”) The song has this great, smoky space that highlights Hata’s gravelly voice and harsh drums. One could construe this as a deconstruction of a jpop (or just pop) song – and by that extension, a Tokyo Jihen song. It is traditional verse, chorus, verse, and has a very simple, plodding beat and rhythm, but with messy vocals, sparse instrumentation, and sung by the least traditionally attractive member of the band. It is SUCH a treat and in just moments brings back all the waves of promise the band had up-to-and-including Adult, the daring and well-executed adventures the band originally enjoyed. Hearing this song almost makes me disappointed that the band would call it quits after such a song. If only the band had drawn upon more of this type of energy, rather than sounds that are decidedly safe. After this, I hope Hata finds an outlet for more music; I’ll gladly listen. Even the damn drummer might be better off!

Such is the story of Tokyo Jihen. The band puts it together for one last hurrah after squandering earlier good will. There’s hundreds of “I wish they would haves…” but at least a few are answered on this disc. Maybe we’ll get to hear more daring sounds from the “Incidents” soon, hopefully, and make the whole Jihen thing worth the while. Tokyo Jihen may have been a failure, but it was a pretty worthwhile failure. They put out an absolute classic live DVD, one album anyone could share with their friends and not be embarrassed about (Adult) and maybe one more (Kyouiku.) Also one EP that’s at least a little interesting, and makes you wonder what if Sports and Dai-hakken (or Variety!) had been split up into tighter, less confuddled EPs. We got “Himitsu,” “Toumei Ningen (Dynamite Out version.,) “Gunjou Byori,” and Hata’s “Honto no Tokoro.” (Most importantly, I got “Superstar” and “Fukushuu”) So really, things should be looking up! In the video for Konya wa Karasawagi, Shiina Ringo sported a mole – her mole, again. Things can go back to normal; resume regularly scheduled programming. Tokyo Jihen is finally over.
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Old 2012.01.18, 09:31 AM   #44
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All, right. My review, directly after Jihad's. Spot the differences (there are many)
1. Konya wa Kara Sawagi. Yes, this is the typical "Jihen" sound, which is odd because Jihen is a versatile band. Either way, this is not just a Jihen song, this is a Ringo song. She's been doing songs like this since her debut, the sort of lounge/jazz-rock pop songs. This one is noticeably more upbeat. It's not smooth like Noudouteki Sanpunkan or funky like Otona-tachi or dark like Honnou. But nonetheless I really like. I only have two issues: the piano bridge which is too obviously a bridge, and the thing that Uki does throughout the song that seems a little too "pop" for the rest of the song.
2. Kai Horror Dust. Is a mess. Before the chorus sets in, I'm thinking "This is the best thing EVER" The drums, the guitar distortion, Izawa sounding drunk. It slithers and crawls. It's darkly melodic. It vaguely reminds me of Ling Tosite Sigure. And then the chorus starts, and I absolutely hate it. Don't get me wrong, it's a good chorus. But when the chorus and verses so closely DO NOT MATCH, it's just an example of poor songwriting. It draws me right out of the song, which is a shame because the verses are so atomspheric.
3. Time Capsule. It's really odd how Kameda is renowned as a rock producer and rock bassist, but his songs are the most poppish things Jihen has done. Unlike Toumei Ningen, which was fun, and Senkou Shoujo, which was more upbeat, this is a song just like Superstar. Except it's far more straightforward and not enjoyable. I don't usually like ballads anyways (for example, Gips).
4. sa_i_ta. Suffers from the same problem as Kai Horror Dust, but not to the same degree. This is an excellent song, though. It has the typical Uki funkiness, but a great club beat. And all these little flourishes like a guitar riff thrown in during a section really make it interesting. And I enjoy listening to songs that move outside the typical verse-chorus structure, and it seems like this song does.
5. Honto no Tokoro. COMBO BREAKER. Whereas it seems like everyone else has liked this song, I really hate it. I really, really hate it. I honestly feel like you people must only like this song for being so contrary. Jihad, this is not passionate singing. It's the type of singing that's incredibly self-important when the singer has no idea how terrible they sound. This is amateurish songwriting. Let's repeat this line 8 more times! That's a song right? This is amateur songwriting and amateur singing and it SOUNDS terrible. You can talk about how this song deconstructs genres or is outside the box but at the end of the day it doesn't sound good and therefore is not enjoyable to listen to.

All in all, I enjoyed Ringo and Uki's contribution, and mostly enjoyed Izawa's contribution. Kameda is boring, and Hata is unrefined.
EDIT: Uki's contribution is my favorite.

Last edited by TurtleFu : 2012.01.18 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 2012.01.18, 01:40 PM   #45
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Kameda deserves more props for Time Capsule. Yeah, he does these ballad songs all the time, but this time he left out the drums and bass. It helped create a better atmosphere and a slightly more unique sound than we're accustomed to hearing from him. Had a nice winter feel to it.
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Old 2012.01.18, 02:44 PM   #46
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And he said the lyrics talk about his father who passed away recently, so please, don't be mean to poor Kameda!
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Old 2012.01.18, 03:19 PM   #47
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This EP is definitely all over the place, but I like that.

Has anyone actually seen the packaging? It is AWESOME, definitely the best out of any release they have done. The first pressing is a card box and the contents fall out. The color bar logo is actually about 5 slips of paper, each stripped with two colors, with a rectangle hole in the center. On the back is printed the lyrics to each song, and when you lay all 5 on top of each other you have the color bar design, which fits inside the large black slip case. It also came with a nice photo of the band from PV, then the cd in the pack in a mini plastic slip, similar to a slip for a record. definitely the most elaborate and well thought out EP. I anticipate regular press must be ENTIRELY different, probably a jewel case with the cards compiled into a small slip with printed lyrics.

as for the music, right now my favorites are Ringo, Kameda, and Hata. I find Hata's track quite interesting. His voice is so raw and you can really hear the passion in his voice. Yes, the lyrics are all about death and simple, yes his voice is gravelly and strange to listen to, but I find it exciting and compelling. No, I won't write a ten page article about how it is high art...I find that much more interesting that Izawa (least favorite) and Uki's (second least favorite). Overall this definitely feels like a hot mess of an EP, almost like a HEY, we can do Variety right this time!

considering Hata and Kameda will most likely still be with Ringo for whatever projects she may move onto, I find the fact that I enjoy their work here the most to be most promising. As much as I like Izawa and Uki as part of Jihen, I don't particularly have much interest to follow their solo careers after their latest efforts.

edit: oh look, I found a video of the packaging!

color bars unpackaging

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Old 2012.01.18, 03:49 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Maou View Post
Kameda deserves more props for Time Capsule. Yeah, he does these ballad songs all the time, but this time he left out the drums and bass. It helped create a better atmosphere and a slightly more unique sound than we're accustomed to hearing from him. Had a nice winter feel to it.
I thought Time Capsule was really nice. I can never fault a Kameda song (with the exception of Toumei Ningen of course) because his songs are consistently quality. Alot of the negative reactions seem to be "I'm a pop music fan, and this song is just a pop song." Yeah it doesn't try to be "crazy" or goofy, but what it is is a very well constructed and performed song.

@turtlefu: Whyy whyyy can we never see eye to eye? Q_Q
So lets talk about Honto no Tokoro. without breaking out the "you people" accusations, I don't think its about being contrary or anything like that, or even it sounding different (though that does help considering the rather homogenous nature of most TJ releases, including the two "good ones.") I think because they are doing different things with sound and space and emotion it makes a cool experience.

In truth, your problems with the track sound, in my mind, like something I might have at one time said about some other kinds of music. Yes Hata's voice isn't exactly Utada, but that's the point. It's like complaining Kurt Cobain didn't sing like Whitney Houston, or Jimmie Hendrix wasn't Mama Cass on vocals. There are different values in different people's voices. While I may not go to Hata's voice if I want to hear a very clear, smooth voice, or one with a lot of range, he does bring a throat full of rocks with a nice tone and really good control. (I think his voice is a million times better than Izawa's personally) He is very passionate on the track. He knows the limits of his voice and pushes powerfully towards them, and maybe peaking for some moments outside of his range. But that's fine, that's passion. Passion isn't just holding one note for a long time or singing very loud (though it can be.)

The song is assuredly not amateurish either. Having several variation or mutations, changing keys and tempos, progressive-rock-edly stitching together songs does not a good song make. Often the simpler or minimalist forms are the harder things to do well or remarkably. Personally, I think the song is knocked out of the park, eschewing a normal rhythm section for just a sparse piano accenting the drum and bass, and an even sparser guitar to create space for Hata's voice. It has such a nice crackly and smoky overall texture. I think it's really well done, but it just may not be your cup of tea.

But first, consider the following: maybe there are some really great songs that you will or wold really really like AND really dislike the first few times you hear it. I wouldn't consider Tokoro too challenging a song, but it is more difficult in comparison to maybe any other song in the TJ and SR catalog. (Maybe Umaru ranks near it.) It may take a few listens. For example, if you go to my Last.fm you'll see my most listened to band is Animal Collective. By a large margin. It isn't that I like the band that much better, but that it takes many more listens to really crack their albums. Their album Sung Tongs just confounded me for a while. It came to me highly recommended, but I was just confused every time. Yet each time I listened I found one new small little nugget that I liked and could latch on to. And I would return for that nugget and pick up another. Soon, I'd really love the whole album, even the 10 minute drone "Visiting Friends" would begin to blow my mind as I began to find some parts "catchy." Yet the very first time I listened to it, or attempted to, I was happy to skip it. I'm not saying to listen to every bad song til you like it, but usually you can tell when there's something going on that you haven't picked up on yet. You can look up some old posts of mine here that would scoff at such a notion, but sometimes its the song that makes the worst first impression that becomes the real jewel of the set.
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Old 2012.01.18, 04:08 PM   #49
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as they've said in many interviews so far, this album is a direct result of Hata writing his song during the Sports era. The plan was originally to release a two track single but it ended up turning into this. To me Hata's song really is the lynch pin in this release, holding it together. I also think the contents of the song are a bit fitting considering this being their last release. He basically sings about finding a dead tanuki and a dead crow near his house, the bodies still warm. He also talks about having his cat eating a hawk. Cheerful stuff
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Old 2012.01.18, 05:16 PM   #50
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I fully concede that I may end up liking Hata's track after a few listens.
It's also a good Hata song because you understand his personality from it.
But, let's be honest, it's basically a screamo pop song.

And it's really not only Hata's voice. For example, I'm a Tom Waits fan. If I can handle Tom Waits and Shiina Ringo, I'm not exactly only looking for polished voices

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