New Japanese Vibes (83) – TK from 凛として時雨 Ling Tosite Sigure ‘Wonder Palette’

TK from 凛として時雨 Ling Tosite Sigure is peerless when it comes to musical identity and innovation. ‘Wonder Palette’ is the latest track to emphasise his eminence as an emblem of Japanese prog-rock. A radiant undercurrent shimmers with bristling energy from the outset, while rhythmic piano riffs, voltage-laden guitars, clamorous drums and TK’s somersaulting vocals in the chorus urge the track to soar above the sonic stratosphere. If you allow me to express my thoughts on this track in the most superficial way, it simply takes the listener to another musical galaxy.

Other Info/Context

  • White noise was released on September 28th.
  • TK from Ling Tosite Sigure will begin his “Signal to Noise’ Tour on November 3rd.

© Isaku Takahashi

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Picks of the Week #10

  • 幾何学模様 Kikagaku Moyo – ‘Silver Owl’

It’s been a year since I started this blog, and since then it has become a platform for you and myself to discover new and unusual bands like幾何学模様 Kikagaku Moyo. As you close your eyes and widen your audible senses for their dream-inspired track ‘Silver Owl’, you will float gently through a cloud of psychedelic folk filled with pensive vocals, delicate guitars and dreamy harmonies. Their considerable reputation today makes me wonder why I didn’t discover them much earlier on in my life.

Sumptuous and stirring, ‘Signal’ by TK (Toru Kitajima) from prog-rock band凛として時雨 Ling Tosite Sigure is a compelling rock number enriched with orchestral power. Away from the punishing rock anthems of his band, ‘Signal’ is a resplendent number that could well crown TK as the prince of prog-rock in Japan today – full of opulent strings, colouristic textures, dynamic guitars and drums, and rich vocals that reach heavenly yet anthemic heights in the chorus. Find out more about Ling Tosite Sigure in my blog post here.

Featuring in their EP 霊感 Reikan, りんごの質感 ‘Ringo no Sitsukan’ is one of the handful of tracks that kick-started the acsent of Taiko Super Kicks. The psychedelic-indie quartet takes the listener through a nostalgic musical fantasy with yearning vocal melodies, dreamy guitar riffs and gently pulsing drums. A guitar solo rockets through the sonic ceiling, ceaseless in energy and fiery emotion before cascading down back to wistful vibes. Listen to another one of their songs in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

凛として時雨 – Rin Toshite Shigure (Ling Tosite Sigure)

The commercial, and arguably manufactured landscape of ‘J-Pop’ rarely produces artists or bands that possess an “auteur” frame of mind. However, the penetrating sounds that come out from Rin Toshite Shigure (or as many people/websites render, Ling Tosite Sigure) is one anomaly in the equation.

Formed in Saitama prefecture, the trio has built a considerable reputation for their punishing hardcore and progressive rock tunes, with elements of experimental or math rock penetrating their musical idiom. They set the tone with tunes such as ターボチャージャーOn ‘Turbocharger On’ from their debut album #4 back in 2005. This particular example models their rampant musical personality, from abrupt changes in tempo, crescendos of wailing vocal lines and moments of extremely dense walls of noise and distorted harmonies that strikes the audible senses.

On the other hand, ‘Moment A Rhythm’ is a 17-minute rock symphonic story. The first half sustains a subdued indie rock pulse that weave its way through fleeting crescendos until a sudden rise in intensity is triggered by the drums and howling guitar solo. As the movement dies away into silence, the latter section is like an after-thought, as it decelerates to a more airy, contemplative atmosphere driven by guitar arpeggios and sonic effects that perhaps evoke the aesthetics of post-rock band Sigur Ros. As the track approaches its conclusion however, the arpeggios get more intense and vocal and distorted utterances creep out of the stereo field that seems like it would conduct a gradual crescendo, only to be deceived by a sudden lapse in harmony and manipulated vocal samples of TK engulf the sonic universe in a cliffhanger ending.

While vocalist TK (Toru Kitajima) retains the fiery enthusiasm that has served him well with Ling Tosite Sigure (e.g. in moderately propulsive songs like ‘Haze’), his solo career is a platform that allows listeners to discover a different angle of his character. ‘Daylily’ is perhaps the biggest step towards a completely different musical periphery. With minimal piano melodies and delicate guitar and faint synth chords that weave in and out (bringing out reminiscences of A Winged Victory for the Sullen or the airport music of Brian Eno), it has the potential to evoke a vivid imagination of a natural wonder.

The amount of colour Ling Tosite Sigure manages to pack in their creative output is enthralling. For sure they will have a pivotal role in influencing the directions Japanese popular music will take in the near future.

Other Listening:

  • Abnormalize
  • 夕景の記憶 kei no Kioku (‘Memories of Sunset’)
  • Unravel (by TK)
  • Fantastic Magic (by TK)

© Isaku Takahashi