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.

We Review Things: “It’s a SAKA-SAMA World”!

SAKA-SAMA have been something of a favorite with Team Homicidols since they first formed in 2016, but at the same time, they’ve remained a perplexing enigma of an idol unit. Constantly shifting membership rosters are always part of this territory, but this group seems especially prone to changing it’s line-up with each passing season, with only Kokone and Dr. Mahiru providing consistency as it’s founding members. And the music of SAKA-SAMA, primarily billed as “Low-Fi Dream Pop”, is in truth equally unpredictable, with a wide variety of unique genres and styles that run the gamut of shoegazey indie-pop to oddball quirky country songs and spoken word pieces, making it a rather difficult task to describe what exactly the group does. Mind you, this isn’t a complaint by any means, I’m just trying to clarify why writing about TRASH-UP!!’s in-house idol group is well… quite a challenge. 

So after a couple of years of compilation tracks, EPs, singles, and one live recording, SAKA-SAMA have finally released an actual, honest-to-goodness full length album, titled, appropriately enough, “It’s a SAKA-SAMA World’! I’ve been excitedly anticipating this release since the moment it was announced, and I eagerly snatched it from OTOTOY right away. I came to realize quickly that this is an album that, just like anything related to SAKA-SAMA, has certain unique traits that can’t be summed up after a breezy listening session. This is what we call a “grower”, or a “slow-burn”, wherein one must dig in deeply to truly reap the rewards of the listening experience, and develop an opinion based on multiple takes instead of relying on easy gratification. 

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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

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

Wake up. Download Some Dang DOTS. Post Your Reaction.

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Idol is gearing up for a hell of a 2018 with a bunch of teasers in the waning moments of 2017 that should do no less than to whet your appetite for an incredible year in music. In this case? Just one of Maniac’s very favorite things, Tokyo’s Dots, who have their first full-length album coming out in January — but you can get a full preview of the whole dang thing beginning right now if you know what’s good for you:

OTOTOY, where so much of my time and money gets spent

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This Dots Release May Break Idol

The eminently crackable enigma that is Dots has been one of the best stories in idol from the very second that they debuted last year, and every new event and release seems like an even more ambitious project of art and performance than the last. Oh, and their music is exquisite, too.

My only regret about this upcoming album(!) is that it’s not out until January:

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Prepare for #WorldDotmination

We’re just a few days away from our #WorldDotmination effort, friends, and it really could not be easier to take part. You can also invite your friends to take part — after all, even the Darkness Girls are in love with Dots:

“But Maniac,” you say, “what if I have any of several frequently asked questions that will allow you to fill column inches to better justify creating a whole new post on this topic in such a way as to manipulate more participation in the latest fan effort?”

I’m glad you asked! Continue reading

Here’s a (Tiny) Peek behind the DOTS Curtain

Hey gang! Brian over at Supreme Nothing may have an even deeper love for the enigmatic Dots than I do, and we got to chatting about this last week; the below is the result of his investigation into how this beautiful madness comes about. Remember to check out Brian’s other stuff, including playing ringleader for some of our more ambitious games, over on his site!

Shoegaze was the term coined for a sub-genre of postmodern bands, initially from the UK region, who played gorgeous, multi-layered rock with distorted guitars, obscured vocals and a dreamy quality that swept you up in emotions. The bands tended to let the music do the talking, so they often maintained a detached demeanor, rarely making eye contact with the audience. In other words, they gazed at their shoes as they played.

In the 90’s, bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Ride and Slowdive enjoyed a rocketing burst of success worldwide. Some of the bands broke up, and others like MBV just sort of retreated away and were assumed by many to be done. In the last few years, all of these bands have been warmly welcomed back, some with new material and sold-out shows. Shoegaze is back once again in the West.

Meanwhile in Japan, it never really ended. This whole time there’s been a multitude of beloved shoegaze, dream pop and post-rock bands keeping that melancholy and dreamy torch lit. In fact, Japan has one of the best shoegaze scenes worldwide. Running parallel to this is an exploding scene of new independent pop idol groups who actively seek out experimentation with other styles in their quest to attract a piece of the wota pie. And that’s what brings us to our elusive subject at hand … Continue reading

Yes, You Apparently Do Want a Virtual Reality Headset as a Gift

I’ll be honest: I think VR, until it’s scaled up to something more akin to the Holodeck, is kind of hokey. I also need less “virtual” and more “awesome” in my reality. For this, though, I’d make an exception.

I was looking through Dots’ manager’s Twitter feed (a completely normal thing to do!) and noticed a third video release. Not on YouTube, mind you, but on this 360Channel thing.

And it’s exactly what you think it is! Continue reading