Idol’s jagged edge.
Let’s tell a story, one that involves yet another attempt at forming a heavy idol group and failing and coming back stronger.
I’m actually not talking about Parallel Japan, but their predecessor, Parallel 5.
Notice anything, or anyone, familiar? Like maybe a certain center for a certain idolcore phenomenon? She’s obviously doing other things now. And that’s literally the story of Parallel 5 — they formed as something of a dance unit with their own vocals, all self-produced, and then lost one of the best singers in the game probably right about the time when they were starting to feel like they were getting somewhere. “Look at Me,” after all, is a pretty okay song.
This is usually the part of the story when the rest of the group breaks up, gets repackaged, etc. But rarely are such things the choice of the members so much as it is the prerogatives of management, and Parallel 5 were running that show themselves.
So despite losses in March 2015, the remaining members — Sari, Asumi and Tibiyui — basically said, “Okay, nbd, let’s reboot.” And that’s what they did. They kept working. According to reader Caleb, they were promised debuts that never materialized. Somebody disappeared with their money; yes, Parallel Japan could very easily have a sad trombone accompaniment.
Definitely feel free to correct this, but most indications are that their first significant appearance on stage following the regroup was actually at the 2015 Tokyo Idol Festival backing up none other than Pour Lui:
They also, without a single official release, spent the autumn of that year rolling out a series of videos that really highlight what Parallel Japan is all about:
The first thing that springs to mind for me when I think about Parallel is a news segment that MTV News did following Kurt Cobain’s death. It involved interviews with mourners, one of whom remarked that he didn’t even know what to do with himself anymore, given that Nirvana was about all he listened to. “Well, them, and Mudhoney.” I’m not saying that Parallel is the Mudhoney of idolcore (not like the way that I look at Himekyun Fruit Can as the Van Halen of rock idols), but that for every ascendant master of a particular scene or sound, there are always keeping-it-real, beloved-by-fans acts at the margins, fiercely independent and just embodying grit and earned emotional expression.
That is Parallel. You can see it in their dance — crisp and professional, a cut above just about everybody else not named Q’ulle, but so expressly violent — and hear it in their songs — raw, largely unfiltered, intense and purposeful. This isn’t yami-kawaii; this spits in kawaii’s face.
But unlike with Mudhoney, I get the feeling that Parallel’s story has a happier ending, or at least a more successful one. You may have noticed that they’re suddenly all over the place, sharing stages with everybody from BiSH to Screaming Sixties to NEXT Shoujo Jiken; their anniversary show was loaded with groups featured on this site, and idol Twitter buzzed about it for days. And for what it’s worth, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group more well-respected by their peers: Maybe because they’re independent, or maybe because they’re just plain loved, but everybody takes photos after and genuinely shows a lot of affection.
Of course, such a sudden burst of attention is bound to mean something, right? As of this writing, the scuttlebutt suggests an album, which would be very cool. If anybody out there would get a huge bump out of working with pro producer to refine their sound, it’s Parallel, and the same goes for their presentation if they can get with solid management, especially if that management doesn’t make them lose their indie edge. Like, for example, these guys. The sudden appearance of this track on Soundcloud, and the accompanying art, suggests the possibility.
So keep an eye out for Parallel. They seemed to be poised to do some serious damage.
What they sound like
A gritty combination of hard rock and idolcore. Their performing style is so well-conceived and well-executed that you can almost tell the sound of their songs just from watching them dance. Which is violent. They are violent even when nobody actually gets hurt. Violence.
You’ll like them if
This is a tough one, and I hate to bring back Seattle scene comparisons, but I actually think that you’ll be able to get into Parallel Japan best if you’re a fan of those 90s-era bands that were distorting blues rock and adding punk and metal elements. Of course, Parallel involves plenty of synths, too, in which case the PassCodes of the world can give you a good place to start.
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