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.
- 夕景の記憶 Yūkei no Kioku (‘Memories of Sunset’)
- Unravel (by TK)
- Fantastic Magic (by TK)
© Isaku Takahashi