You Should Get RAY On Your Radar Right Now…

I’ve been kind of tingling with giddy anticipation all day today since this bit of news broke via a retweet from the Dots staff twitter. As you may know, the mysterious mind behind Dots has been quietly planning a successor to the seminal experimental and constantly evolving shoegaze idol project, and at last, it appears that the time is nigh for the next event to break out and dare I suggest, likely shatter expectations with an exciting new unit…

It’s RAY, and their plan as stated, is to bring about “Omnidirectional music development and performance”. The group is determined to achieve a fusion of idol with different fields of interest in ways that have never been done before. They’ve also stated that they fully intend to reach out and collaborate with creators on a global level, and they’ve already made good on that promise: Their first international connection will come in the form of music provided by the amazing Austin, Texas shoegaze band Ringo Deathstarr. (This is the part where I went from excited to really really excited.)

It turns out that Ringo Deathstarr toured Japan earlier this year and crossed paths with Dots while making the highly active shoegaze scene there, and well, good things came of it. This is a pretty high-profile beginning that could potentially introduce RAY with a pretty new audience, with a nice bit of indie-cred attached to it!

So who are these RAY girls? A couple of things: This group will be significantly different  because the members will not be anonyomous entities. And not only will they have names attached to their faces, but each girl will also pursue solo work, and work on individual projects using crowdfunding to help pursue their goals. It’s a very unique and yet still groundbreaking arrangement that’ll be interesting to see unfold. Here they are…

(I’m not sure if anyone looks familiar to you or not, but I’ll offer you this much… One of these girls is somebody whose eyes you’ve never seen before…)

RAY will be making their live debut on May 1st, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll be highly talked about shortly after. You can follow the group’s twitter account here, their official website here, and also click on the members above to follow them too!

Very cool and very wonderful things are unfolding here, and this is your opportunity to not miss the boat.  RAY is gonna show us the way!

 

The Dot-chans Just Gifted Us A Little Creative License…

In seems that even in a world where our dearly beloved shoegaze idols have been spirited off the mortal plane, we will (thankfully) never truly be left behind in a totally Dot-chan less world. Even now the ethereal beings slowly unravel little parting gifts that will allow us to continue reaping the rewards of their time on Earth.

The Dots dropped their final album “Points” last week, (along with a 7″ single!) gathering up their remaining unreleased tracks. There will be a review of that album here in the next day or so, so watch out for that a bit later! But let’s talk about this newest offering first…

While “PD” could certainly mean “Post Dots”, in this case, it stands for “Public Domain”, as in certain works in the Dot-chan universe have been placed into the care of all of us. Now before you start pressing your own Dots merch and bootlegs, keep in mind that there’s still ownership and restrictions that apply here!

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Despair Not for the Dissolution of our Dearest Dots

Before dashing off this article too briskly, I took in the last evening to ponder yesterday’s announcement that the dot-chans have scheduled what will be their final live, do a little research to understand what I could, and also to reflect on where we go in a world without the beloved shoegaze idols we’ve come to know.

I know that most all of you who follow the group are already aware of the impending closure, because I heard from a number of you about it, some in personal messages, and others from reading your reactions online. It speaks to the unique specialness of this group in the way many of you expressed your thoughts with a feeling of personal loss and perhaps a sense of disappointment. Oshi-loss, as Kerrie refers to it, is a very real emotional reaction when you’ve connected to an idol who’s graduating or a group that’s dissolving. And although these dot-chans have largely maintained a sort of aloof anonymity, they still touched a part of each of us fans. It’s also very notable to point out, as this article from Matt Bedford of Muso Japan demonstrates, that the group succeeded in gaining followers outside of idol circles.

I did reach out to Japanese fans, and I also read the group’s blog entry containing the chan’s statements. I can tell you that amongst the fans, the announcement was a surprise, and there is no obvious tangible reason for the dissolution that’s been given. I can also tell you that the dot girls of Tokyo are going to remain just as mysterious as they’ve been right up to the end. Everyone is very much remaining in character, and I not only appreciate that, but I love that that’s how they’re going out. The more I think about it, I’m less interested in finding out the “why”, and more interested in celebrating what we knew. In their blog statements, the members of the group seem to be upbeat and positive to travel into their futures. I get no sense of sadness.

The group’s primary manager/producer/visionary also kept the mythology going, explaining that the ethereal manifestations that took the shape of girls will inhabit those forms for only a limited amount of remaining time, and then the end of that time on Earth is here. The dot-chans were always meant to be impermanent, and so they move on to new planes of existence.

If you really want my non-mythology theory, I believe the dots are disbanding for the very best of reasons: Because they’ve largely achieved what they set out to do. Now they can go explore new things in their lives which may or may not include obsessive fans and metaphysical concepts. (There’s also the matter of this being a nearly no-profit industry, but I think that’s a given with most art-driven projects.) Some time ago, it was hinted that there was a new project underway that I thought was going to be a sister-group to the Dot-chans. That project is still happening. So far, almost nothing has been revealed about it except that it’s continuing the innovative high art concepts that Dots have broken ground with. I believe a torch is being passed, and it’ll be exciting to see what’s coming as this new project takes a tangible shape.

I want to tell you dear people reading this: Do not anticipate this event with despair, but rather look forward to the new things to come. Don’t miss the Dots with sadness, but remember them fondly with affection. This is the way of things, and like a passing satellite in the sky, it’s something you should cherish for simply having seen it.

The dot-chans will have their final live on March 24. They will also have additional activities building up to the last show. And since they still have unreleased recorded material and more songs, including another great tune written by Azusa Suga of For Tracy Hyde, (The video posted above!) I also suspect that they’ll have some more musical output to be consumed as well. I know the fans will support the group to the fullest and send them off in celebratory style, because they deserve it.

Now let’s thank Dots for what they gave us and wish them the very best.

Homicidols TV Party Tonight!

Streaming video is marvelous, isn’t it? It’s a completely indispensable resource for us Western idol fans in particular, allowing us to keep up with events and shows that we’d otherwise miss out on, so thank goodness for that. Quite often, following an event I especially wish I had seen, I hit the internet in the days afterward to see if I can find some video, and lo and beyond, often I find what just what I wanted. One thing that’s nice about chika-level idols in particular is that many of these groups have relaxed rules for filming shows. Some groups even have just about nearly every gig uploaded for fans to see. I’ve had a few favorites lately, and I thought I’d share them in one handy place and perhaps help bring something your way that you’ll especially enjoy. It’ll be like a TV PARTY!

First up is Avandoned, the duo who have never failed to make me happy and excited to see what creative endeavors they’ve taken on next. These are the girls who I feel have really broken ground, having elevated to a new sub-sub genre, the Art Idol. Another thing I love about them, they’ve been escaping the usual dark basement club circuit and performing in quirky shops and galleries, attracting crowds out side the usual flock of wota devotees. Avandoned’s relationship with the Vivid Sound label is really striking gold, with a string of vinyl singles that suit the group’s vision perfectly. Avandoned have a new single coming out on October 10th, and they perform the a-side here in this video at the 28:33 mark. It’s another perfect fix of pop-goodness, and they sing like they’re having the time of their lives!

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We Review Things: The tipToe./Dots Split Single is a Concoction of Fizzy Goodness


DIY rock bands figured out a long time ago that the “split-single” is a great way for fledgling artists to achieve the milestone of getting a record out there. Two bands chip in their money, and each gets one side of a 45 rpm vinyl record, ready to share with the masses. And for music lovers, it’s a pretty nifty deal as well, cause for a low price point,

you could take a chance on hearing two new bands you might happen to dig. It’s a great punk-rock tradition that plenty of bands still carry on today. 

And now here come two darlings on the indie-idol set, tipToe. (That’s how you stylize the type.) and ········· (You know, Dots.) with a split/collaboration single entitled “Tokyo Sentimental”. The two groups have been friendly buds for a while now since they shared a bill in which the tipToe. girls surprised the audience by coming out on stage wearing the Dots’ patented visors and vintage dresses and paying a little tribute to the ethereal idols. It was a fun little moment that brought tipToe. to my attention for the first time, and thanks very much for that! 

So how’s the single? “Tokyo Sentimental” is only four songs and it’s quick listen, and the two groups make the most of the brevity.  Continue reading

No Shoes Were Gazed Upon During The Making Of This New Dots Song

About the only predictable thing about Dots is that well, they’re not predictable. In the past few weeks, a furious flurry of activities has suddenly sprung from the enigmatic collective of non-corporeal idols, including the announcement that two of the chans are about to move to new planes of existence. Things are happening again in the Dots universe, and they’re happening rapidly.

Late last month, Maniac shared his thoughts on a new Dots song that was posted online. I also really love the song a lot, like a whole lot. It’s an absolutely wondrous  burst of the kind of shoegaze purity that gives me life. That song belongs alongside Ride, Lush and of course MBV’s best songs, all archived within the Shoegaze Hall of Fame cause it’s just that good.

But hold on, now there’s a new Dots transmission that just dropped! This new song arrived quietly in the form of an “Image Video”. Fresh off the radiant energy of the previous preview tune, I was of course all aboard for another rush of swirly guitars and wispy vocals, but this is Dots, and you don’t get to make a call on what to expect so easily:  Continue reading

The Never-Ending DOTS Evolution Prepares For Its Next Incarnation

Wow, it was a busy weekends for the dot-chans! First they had their (possibly) breakthrough moment performing at the Tokyo Idol Festival, basking in a quick brush with the mainstream at what’s the biggest idol event in Japan, but that wasn’t even all!

Not only did they perform at the big “corporate” idol event, they kept a foot firmly planted by their roots by showing up at the “Underground Idol Festival” (UTIF) and performed under that banner too! These girls and their management clearly understand where they come from and aren’t about to burn bridges with the chika circuit, and good for them.

And then, in addition to that, dot-chans then made another appearance, this time at Maker Faire Tokyo, where they rubbed elbows with another breed of artists: The technology-minded DIY creatives who enjoy tinkering with their own devices and inventions scratch built from one’s own hands. It was the perfect match for them, as the Dots utilized the fair to present their own forward-thinking efforts to develop new and innovative ways to connect idols with their fans. You may recall an article published here last here last year that showcased such new marvels as the “Five Senses Cheki” and the usage of heart monitors to enhance the bond between wota and their oshis.

The Dot-chans are still hard at work to raise the idol experience to the next level. Looking around Twitter, I found a few comments from attendees unfamiliar with the group expressing their newfound interest in the girl’s endeavors. Another success at bringing new faces into their fold!

Some photos from Maker Faire Tokyo…

And with all that flurry of activity, there was another equally important announcement that was revealed this week, perhaps one a bit more melancholy for some of their fans. Two of the chans are removing their visors and moving onto a new plane of existence, because Dot-chans do not graduate, but rather assume new forms in their own personal evolution. Continue reading

Hold Up, I Need to Celebrate This Dots Song

It’s pretty rare that I make a decision about a thing and then walk it back as hard as I’m walking back this one. That it’s for something so (relatively) inconsequential is kind of funny; I prefer accountability. But maybe you can walk a thing back while still owning the mistake? Sure.

Anyway! This is how inconsequential it is: Like no doubt a lot of people who got super Dot-cited over 2016 and 17, I’ve been wondering what the heck was going on with my favorite anonymous idol singularities. They’re so quiet compared to what used to be some of the most regular (and stellar) output in the business, with some of the best and most ambitious releases you’ll ever get your hands on. So when I spied a clip of a new song, I got just as irrationally excited as I usually do*, and … well, it turned out to not only just be a thing for the Weekender, but also a reminder about another thing and hence, the first Idol in Focus. Even after I saw what I’m about to re-share, I was in such a lousy Dots-related mood that I chucked in a comment rather than think.**

What a mistake! I lamented the abandonment of Core Dots Shoegaze, one of the most delightful things that idol ever gave me, and it was right there in my face: Continue reading

For Real, It’s Not Too Late To Get on the Dots Bandwagon

Late-night Dots surprise! Hot on the heels of the release of their first real-deal album, the enigmatic collective of singularities who may or may not be actual humans dropped the MV that I was hoping for weeks ago, but I am not going to complain because Dots!

I don’t do a lot of vocaloid, but this reminds me of a particularly well-known Hatsune Miku number. There are a lot of little moves in the song that you could drop into a lot of modern and post-rock tunes, but those vocals … it’s not something that the average Westerner is just going to pick up and appreciate, because the phrasing in the sounds is kind of alien, but your student of, say, Baroque-era church music might find it a little bit familiar. It’s just so dang smart!

This is the kind of thing that happens when you bring in the kind of rather effusive and revealing songwriting talent that has been providing tracks for the least understood project in idol; it’s also what happens in idol, because if a manager takes the music itself seriously, they can go well outsides the constraints of the group itself for contributions to the sound, and more and more talented musicians are willing to write and record for and with idols.

By the way, the album? It’s really good. I started a review, had to pull away from it, some stuff happened and then it wasn’t timely anymore, so it’s gone. But: The only knock that I had on it was that it’s missing some variety — at once point, I realized that I was several tracks away from where I’d started, and I’ll be darned if I could say what happened on the way there. With full attention, the situation was rectified (and enjoyed!), but yeah, that’s my note.

Let’s Hope DOTS Tributes Become A Thing…

So I saw this new Dots video linked on Twitter and of course I eagerly clicked it. Within a few moments, the ethereal powers of the・chans took over and swept me away as I watched this clip of them performing “Soda Float Mood”, another song written by For Tracy Hyde‘s guitarist Azusa Suga, who also penned their fantastic crossover tune “Slide”. (We interviewed Azusa previously…)

And then a minute in, I’m thinking “Uhh, hey, these aren’t the・chans I know.” Equally perplexed and fascinated, I dug into the #dotstokyo twitterverse to find out what was happening here. I had previously joked about the Dots entering a state of osmosis and multiplying into two groups, could it be that this thought was prophetic?

Well, nothing quite so heavy and world-changing. Quite simply, Dots had played a show with another delightful indie-idol group called tipToe, and they decided to pull a little stage-costume switcheroo…

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