An Incident from Tokyo


11. Jan. 2012, 0:15

Today I got really sad news. My favorite band announced its death. How would you feel if a friend you like very much said to you he would die in less than two months? Yeah, you must think I am overreacting, and I would think that too if it was not me on this spot right now. It was a surprise to me how sad I felt when receiving this news, but now I realize that actually the unit of those five people, who lives in a 12 hour time fuse distance of me, is my friend. A very close friend, who accompanies my daily journey, with all its good and band emotions, since January 2006.

That was when the album Adult was released. A friend sent me the album in a zip file and asked me if I knew this band. Never heard of it. Then I pushed play, the song Himitsu started, my mind did blow with that fusion of cabaret-styled jazz and cool funky and rocky instrumental elements. And those vocals… those vocals…

-That voice sounds like Shiina Ringo. – I told my friend.
-It IS Shiina Ringo. – He answered me.

I already knew about that lady, and some of her songs like Kabukicho no Joou, Tsumiki Asobi and Honnou. The lesbian rebel nurse video was an instant hit among me and a couple of friends. Though, I cannot say I was a fan. Speaking of Japanese music, I was more into visual rock bands, like X Japan, Luna Sea and L’Arc~en~Ciel, so you can assume I preferred a sound with a more intense straight rock edge, mainly with male vocals. I still like all that today, but listening to that crazy jazzy album represented a changing point, a landmark, in the way I saw music.

The same thing happened a few times before in my musical life: First with Brazilian 80’s band Paralamas do Sucesso and their compilation Arquivo, when I was 12, which opened my eyes (or ears) for the world of adult-oriented music and lyrics. Second with Aerosmith and their album Nine Lives, when I was 14, which was my first “serious contact” with American hard rock and aggressive guitar work. Third was the album that introduced me to the variety and creativity that Japanese music could provide to my musical tripping, when in was 16: hide’s second solo album, Psyence. So diverse, so heavy and mellow at the same time, so crazy, so free of boundaries.

And then came Adult, opening my musical word once more to many things that I was ignoring because of the “way of hard rock” where I was so immerse. Jazz, bossa nova, sweet female vocals, experimentations with electronica not being industrial rock, the magic touch of black music, the strength of a nice bass line… plus the cherry in the cake, which was that special , unique and unavoidable Japanese touch presented on their songwriting and in the vocals. The perfect blend this band showed in their music made me think: THAT is a BAND!

That is why I am not a fan of Hirama (the band’s first guitarist) – a great player, but owner of a style that was just too rock-standardized. And a thing I especially liked on that band’s sound was the unusual guitar work navigating from bluegrass to funky rhythms in all songs, to then explode in power chords in the second chorus of the song Tegami (is there even a chorus?), and finally bursting up in a Queen-fashioned beautiful guitar solo. All courtesy of Mr. Ukigumo.

Speaking of Tegami, what a beautiful song, written by Mr. Izawa, the man that - despite all the power and magnificence that Shiina Ringo has as a singer, performer and songwriter – showed talent to establish himself as a kind of “counter-leader” in this band, really important for the artistic direction they took until the very end, and author of great songs that could compare even to Shiina’s previous masterpieces. And so we have Mr. Kameda, “Shisho” (Master), as called by Shiina – a monster in the bass, showing that this instrument should never be overshadowed, and which even came to reveal himself as a talented songwriter, responsible for some of the most catchy tunes of the band. And, finally, we have Mr. Hata, who showed himself to be a spirituous and consistent drummer, able to play greatly in a variety of rhythms and styles, and also a good kagura dancer!

But there is one member left to talk about. If you read through here and you are not familiar with Shiina Ringo, you must be wondering why I put her in a pedestal to somewhat like a genius. And the answer is simple: That’s because she IS. Unfortunately, or not, I was only able to realize that after listening to her work with this band. After weeks of listening to Adult on repeat, I was obviously more curious about her solo work, which already was comprised of four albums and a full range of singles and live records. And discovering each new work of that woman was somewhat intense. Almost literally, a mind-blowing experience.

And that is why, even feeling the sadness of the death of my good friend, I understand the reasons behind it. Shiina-san showed herself to be a musical mutant, always changing and experimenting so much, that this time had to come, someday. After five albums and a collection of respective five extremely beautiful live tour registers, maybe she felt the band completed its lifecycle. After all, from the beginning it was a “what if?” that came from her mind, abruptly interrupting a successful solo career. And what will this young woman take out of her hat next? I am curious, and I hope you are. Plus, we have four more friends to follow up on their upcoming musical roads.

Thanks for the great moments in these five years we have been together, Tokyo Jihen.

(Even though I will not be able to attend a concert of you, as I wished)



  • orange-poisoner

    Beautiful, man :).

    11. Jan. 2012, 0:25
  • Eriol-kun

    Something like that. The end of an era.

    11. Jan. 2012, 3:46
  • rayculz

    Shortlife but that's had thousand meanings

    11. Jan. 2012, 9:03
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