米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi / ハチ Hachi

米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi is a musician of today. Showing a keen interest for the latest music technology, the Japanese singer-songwriter started off building a prolific career under the artist name ハチ Hachi, where he would make music through VOCALOID production software and upload it on Nico Nico Douga (*like a Japanese Youtube). Few years later, he would come out of his shell and delight listeners with his friendly vocal tone and pleasant J-Pop influenced productions.

マトリョシカ ‘Matryoshka’ was composed by Yonezu under the name Hachi. Its quirky alt-rock vibe with a motoric EDM propulsion forms the backdrop for the 初音ミク Hatsune Miku VOCALOID personality, singing a vocal melody with some exotic inflections. The occasional harmonic bending and an abstract and chaotic visual reel further enrich the narcotic, dizzy sonic experience.

アイネクライネ ‘Eine Kleine’ from his second album Yankee is a great example of the characteristically friendly musical personality of Yonezu. A vivid parallel of the feel-good nature of J-Pop talents like 上地遊助 Kamiji Yusuke or Japanese-Canadian band Monkey Majik, ‘Eine Kleine’ cocoons the listener and just sits on the audible palette with a gentle foot-tapping groove, simple harmonic progressions and melodies, and the sweet vocal tone of Yonezu.

By contrast, one can perhaps hear an Avicci-influenced dance propulsion and a Coldplay-esque emotional euphoria inアンビリーバーズ ‘Unbelievers’. Featuring in his latest album Bremen, this upbeat number has a seductive sheen inspired by a booming drumbeat, bursting harmonies, bright textures and an anthemic melody by Yonezu’s charming vocals tinged with a subtle vocoder-like filter.

Perhaps defying the strict formula of gaining success in the J-Pop sphere, Yonezu Kenshi stands out as a fine example of finding an individual musical identity while maintaining awareness for mainstream interest. Alongside the array of illustrations created by him to accompany his artistic palette, Yonezu’s creative identity is of personal significance.

Other Listening:

  • Flowerwall
  • Vivi
  • メトロノーム Metronome
  • ドーナツホール Donut Hole

© Isaku Takahashi

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