The conceptual background that lies beneath synth-pop band パスピエ Passepied is perhaps the key to their success. With a band name that refers to the final movement of Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque, the all-female five piece blends the musical aesthetics of impressionism and the retro but modern grooves of synth-pop/new wave/electro-pop to mould an entrancing sound world unmatched by peers.
Passepied plunged into the music scene with tracks like フィーバー ‘Fever’ from their debut album 演出家出演 Enshutsuka Shutsuen (‘Director who appeared’). Although one may argue that this is one of their modest numbers in terms of sonic interest, there is plenty to engage the listener’s audible senses. A quirky, exotic melody from the laser-coloured synths gets the motor going alongside an energetic rhythm section. The undeniably infectious marmite-quality of 大胡田なつき Ogoda Natsuki takes the driver’s seat for the greater part of the song, particularly the colourful chorus enriched by a wacky harmonic progression that exudes a slightly narcotic effect. (Perhaps the tonal ambiguity captures their interest for impressionist ideas).
Passepied’s sound has progressed dramatically from their debut. Attuned to the likes of Sakanaction, ‘MATATABISTEP’ glorifies in an unashamedly retro sonic universe. From beaming synth oscillations, rich harmonies, the rhythmic kick from the guitar, bass and drums, and the nostalgic-sounding melody from Ogoda’s sugar-coated voice, this track absorbs the colouristic qualities of 70s disco and new wave and radiates a sparkling and seductive musical explosion.
Equally enticing is the multi-coloured effects oozing out of とおりゃんせ ‘Toryanse’, named after the traditional Japanese nursery song. Delay-filtered guitar chords, a celeste-like hook, a ticking clock pulse and woozy synth harmonies cast a magical sonic cosmos until the incredibly kitsch vocal melody (infused with Japanese melodic inflections) and the rich rhythm section (that includes guitars, organ and drums) elevates the song’s catchy personality.
With an overriding interest towards impressionism, Passepied has built a strong relationship between the syrupy character of cutesy pop and the varicoloured overtones of synth, new wave and electronic styles to produce an inventory of fetching tunes.
- 裏の裏 Ura no Ura
- トロイメライ Toroimerai
© Isaku Takahashi