J-Christmas Vibes (5) – Lullatone ‘how to tie a scarf’

‘Pajama-pop’ duo Lullatone makes some of the most innocent and genteel music with the most simple of musical ideas. ‘how to tie a scarf’ illuminates a wistful sonic air using a single music box-like celeste playing lyrical arpeggios that evoke dainty snowflakes falling with grace, while subtle crackling in the distant stereo field capture a sense of timelessness and fine inflections in pitch glimmer a dreamy atmosphere. Find out more about Lullatone in my blog post here, and listen to more of their songs here.

© Isaku Takahashi


Picks of the Week #1

  • トクマルシューゴ Tokumaru Shugo – ‘Vektor feat. 明和電機

From carnival trumpets to vibrant percussion, トクマルシューゴ Tokumaru Shugo coaxes a pop atmosphere like no other. With the help of 明和電機 Meiwa Denki’s dazzling array of made instruments that play on their own, Vektor’ dances away in a fiesta of foot-tapping rhythms, South American instrumental colours, harmonies and riffs enriched with meticulous percussive timbres. No wonder he is gaining widespread attention from media and listeners from all around the world.

  • The peggies – グライダー ‘Glider’

The peggies is band of today. Made up of three girls born in 1995, they summon the vitality of female rock bands like SCANDAL to keep the girl band energy in the Japanese music scene alive. グライダー ‘Glider’ is taken from their album NEW KINGDOM released last November, and sees them literally soar above the stratosphere with their voltage-charged band sound, electrifying guitar riffs and somersaulting vocals that jump from feathery melodies to yells that strike sonic lightning.

  • Lullatone – ‘Working from a park bench’

Japanese-American ‘pajama pop’ duo Lullatone offer something a little bit different in their recent musical output. They set out a resolution from the beginning of this year: to upload new compositions every week. ‘Working from a park bench’ is one of their latest tracks to tread footsteps on their Soundcloud universe. Much more pop-like in vibe, the track immerses listeners in woozy reverse effects, twinkling piano riffs, mellow harmonies, plucking strings and a gentle heart-beating drum beat.

  • SKY-HI – クロノクラブ ‘Kurono Club’

After releasing his second solo album カタルシス Catharsis, SKY-HI unveiled his new track クロノクラブ ‘Kurono Club’ (‘Black Club’). The Japanese rapper and one-seventh of J-pop group AAA goes beyond his dexterous rapping skills and showcases his tender, honey-toned vocals in a mid-tempo R&B/hip-hop ballad filled with shimmering electric piano riffs, heavenly strings, crystalline backing vocals and a foot-tapping beat.

  • Cornelius – ‘Lazy’

Everyone’s been talking about the reissue of Cornelius’ 1997 album Fantasma. 小山田圭吾 Oyamada Keigo, the genius behind some of Japan’s most iconic artists including Flipper’s Guitar, announced the release of this limited edition featuring a bonus track called ‘Lazy’. This track is just one of 17 in the extended album, coaxing a vibrant cosmos of musical styles from indie rock, electronica, techno and hip-hop.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (26) – Lullatone ‘A Photograph From The Day You Were Born’

The delicate and charming ‘pajama pop’ of Lullatone in 2016 is bound to be quite a busy one. The Japanese-American duo of 富田淑美 Tomita Yoshimi and Shawn James Seymour made a new years resolution to release a new track every Thursday in 2016, and ‘A Photograph From The Day You Were Born’ is their second track they have shared. You can expect their soundcloud page to get pretty vibrant.

This sweet little tune encapsulates Lullatone’s imaginative musical personality. Cute melodies, twinkling tuned percussion, serene sine-wave textures, electronic crafts, silky strings and gentle piano and guitar harmonies soothe and coat the listener’s ears in a transparent, honey-glazed ambience.

Other Info/Context

  • Check out my other post on Lullatone here.

© Isaku Takahashi


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