Something a little different.

Lullatone, a duo based in Nagoya find their creative identity between the innovative sonic labyrinth of musique concrete, and diverse popular styles from bossa nova to ambient and minimalist music, marked by a quirky, childlike character. They emphasise their uniqueness as they refer to their musical style as ‘pajama pop’.

I will talk about three of their albums (two of which have a seasonal theme), each album conveying its own distinctive musical, sonic flavour.

The first seasonal album that grabbed my attention is the EP While Winter Whispers. It opens the listener to an imaginary visual reflection of the serenity and tranquil nature of winter. The musical ‘story’ opens with a delicate tune, ‘A Little Song About Snowdrops’, evolving from a lullaby-like melody played by the music box. ‘All the Optimisim of Early January’ lifts the musical journey to new heights. It sprouts an injection of sonic energy with a marching quality to it. ‘Tiny Glaciers’ slowly lightens the mood with delicate musical inflections that are evocative of an image of water drops falling from melting glaciers. The journey concludes with ‘Falling Asleep with a Book on Your Chest’, with gentle ripples of chords on the electric piano and a tiptoeing glockenspiel melody drawing a vivid picture of the final snowflakes to grace the land.

Lullatone explore the sounds of summer in their EP Summer Songs. Stylistically, perhaps it is not as innovative as other albums, pronounced in the significant influences of early rock ‘n’ roll, surf and Hawaiian music. Yet there are glimpses of bustling sonic activity. The songs in this EP are all carefully designed to musically paint various pictures of summer: ‘Cannonball Splash’ is a classic tropical surf wave soundtrack, ‘Driving Home with a Towel on the Seat’ displays some clever sonic textures in the form of a lo-fi rattling drone that mimics the cry of a cicada, and ‘Still Feeling the Waves When You Go to Bed’ provides a serene conclusion, with a sweet whistling melody accompanied by the natural sounds of the ocean on a late evening orange sunset.

In Computer Recital, the Nagoya duo skilfully crafts an album out of the foundation of sound, the sound wave. While one would imagine such an approach would provoke an abstract, machine-driven piece, they form a body of sonic inventions that somehow manages to carry a touch of human intimacy. Lullatone balances distorted noise samples with clean, warm melodies and harmonies in songs like ‘Tracing’ and ‘Resound’, in a way that it feels like a reflection of a daydream: a distant imaginary world mingling with the mechanised sounds of everyday life.

Overall, Lullatone delivers a brand of purity, joy and warmth. To be able to appreciate Lullatone you need two prerequisites: to be able to listen to the fine details the duo puts in their creations, and the ability to draw out your inner childhood.

Other Listening:

  • The Sounds of Spring EP
  • Soundtracks for Everyday Adventures
  • Little Songs About Raindrops

© Isaku Takahashi