Kai: A Retrospective Of A Wonderfully Unique Idol

By now most of you know that Kai, one of our favorite quirky oddball idols around these parts, has decided to step down from all activities. TRASH-UP!! Records released a statement late last week breaking us the news…

For a lot of us, this retirement of sorts is a more personal loss than usual in a business where graduations and disbandments are common events that we’ve developed an understanding and acceptance of. Kai was just something… well, unique, y’know? Aside from her fans, she’s also always been a consistent friend of idols. I can’t recall exactly how many times she showed up in my instagram feed having lunch with someone else I followed. Beni made a point to post her well-wishes and reminisce over some fond memories…

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Suzuki Kokone From SAKA-SAMA Is Here To Help Ease Our FEVER…

SAKA-SAMA is most-certainly an encapsulation of what we think of when we discuss the ups-and-downs and side-to-sides of this whole idol business. This group has run a full gamut of graduations and roster configurations, all while maintaining a musical vision that alters just as much as the member incarnations. There’s only one thing about the lo-fi dream pop idols that has stayed consistent, and that’s Suzuki Kokone, the leader and sole founding member of the group…

Kokone’s perennial presence in SAKA-SAMA has now paid-off for her (And for us, too.) with her first solo release! While Kokone has dabbled with some solo lives while playing her guitar, this marks the first actual catalogued TRASH-UP!! recording by her. (There may have been some solo CDRs sold at live shows perhaps, but I can’t quite recall.) “FEVER” is a six-track mini-album now available through TRASH-UP!!’s online store.

And right along with that welcome news, we’ve also been gifted this delightful MV of the title track! The video is very much in keeping with the sort of whimsy one would expect from a TRASH-UP!! solo artist. Tell ya what, why don’t give it a watch if you haven’t already…

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And Now A Delightful Visit To SAKA-SAMA World…

I’ve been wondering if this steady stream of... um, well…streaming live shows is the beginning of another game-changing alteration in our strange and new socially distant world that’s here to stay, or just a means to get through the weirdness of the times. Ultimately I feel like it’s probably a little of both. A number of idol groups have figured out that there’s different ways to supplement their incomes through these online shows by either charging indie-pay-per-view fees, selling merchandise tied into the moment, or even just leaving up a donation link like a virtual hat laying on the sidewalk busker-style. There’s a ton of these events happening now of course, and thankfully Daemon’s been doing a capital job of trying to help keep us aware of what’s coming up.

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Cinema and Boy CQ Present “The Picture Show of Chronic Deja Vu”…

Our number-one favorite coed-experimental-theatre-art-idol duo, Cinema and Boy CQ (You may call them Densho to shorten it.) have graced us with a new release! Following up their groundbreaking album The Soundtrack of Different Dimension Travel”, the pair have digitally unveiled their second full-length. due out on a  physical disk on May 18.

For the more adventurous masses who yearn for bold, left-of-center experiences that push the edges of what one typically considers to be within the “idol” genre, this is the far and above one of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2020. However, due to the recent historical-scale health crisis, this album was actually delayed slightly, but like all great art, it just simply wasn’t right to suppress work that yearns to be heard. And so Densho and TRASH-UP!! Records have generously gifted us this release in advance  courtesy of digital streaming platforms, and you should by all means immerse yourself in this rich audio/visual journey…

The new album is called “The Picture Show of Chronic Deja Vu”, which right off the bat is a pretty cool sounding title that conjures up feelings hallucinatory projected images that match up (or even clash) with relaxed moments of solitude. It wouldn’t be the first time visual and audio art colluded to make for a serious headtrip, y’ know?

Anyway, right on cue with the new album, there’s also a couple of MVs to help get you in the Densho mood. First up is “No. 9”, directed by Yukkyun himself…

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Beni and CHILDISH TONES remember life as an “Ex Fan Des Sixties”…

avandoned may be approaching an end to it’s illustrious career run, but by no means does this mean that Beni Usakura will be ceasing to work on terrific musical projects that are both sublime and meaningful. Once again the multi-media chanteuse has teamed-up with the amazing toy instrument garage band CHILDISH TONES to offer another great take on a classic pop tune!

This time the delightfully quirky combo is treating us to a haunting cover of a song written by the LEGENDARY master of subversive pop, the great Serge Gainsbourg himself, which was recorded by his long-running romantic and artistic muse, the fabulous and stunning Jane Birkin

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SAKA-SAMA Is Still Lo-Fi and Dreamy…

SAKA-SAMA summed up the state of idol for 2019 in a nutshell: They kicked off in January as a six-member unit, then experienced a major overall, leaving them as Kokone’s solo act for a bit, and is now ending the year with multiple-group veteran Mizuho stepping up as a support recruit, rebranding SAKA-SAMA as a duo. (I think they’ve been a duo at least once before… it’s hard to remember every incarnation!) How long will this arrangement last? It’s a SAKA-SAMA world, so we’ll just have to simply wait and see!  But this moment in the group’s evolving history will be documented in the form of a recorded single that’s title translates to “Goodnight Judy”. So with this new single, how does the dynamic change? Here’s an MV to give us the insight…

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Boris is Love

Okay, so I started to ask the proprietor of this website “Hey Maniac, you think just this once, based on their recent activity, you could humor me into declaring Boris the ultimate endgame in this experimental synthesis of idols with rock music that’s been happening over the last few years and post this new MV on the blog even though it’s a complete stretch of our already shifting mission statement?”

And he’d either say “Hey, why the heck not?” or “C’mon man, don’t mess up my life’s work. You post that Boris MV and you’re fired.”

But anyway, he’s been away on business, so I didn’t ask him and posted this recklessly, so if my bags are packed in the next day or so, you know why!

Mother-F’n Boris man. Even your non-weeb friends love them. They’re absolute freakin’ titans of drone-noise-experimental-soundscapes who’ve recorded a massive discography on a dozen different labels. So when TRASH-UP!! Records, a label that I first came to love through their magazine, low-budget films, and releases by the quirkiest of the quirky world of chika idols announced that they were celebrating their 10th (!) anniversary with an EP by the band, I was pretty excited. Giddy might even be the better word! I even joked that I couldn’t wait for the eventual collaboration between the power-trio of sludge and the label’s flagship unit SAKA-SAMA.

https://twitter.com/TrashupRecords/status/1161112803026935809?s=20

Well, that collaboration hasn’t happened yet, but they did play a gig with the TRASH-UP!! groups along with the wonderful Aqbi roster of artists for the label’s big anniversary showcase, and it was worth noting that the band, especially Wata, seemed quite comfortable and welcoming of their surroundings. All my kidding aside, it really does open up thoughts of potential possibilities and reminds us of an important thing, the walls dividing genres have been knocked down and utterly destroyed as they always were meant to be for the good of music enjoyed by the truly open-minded masses. I think this is our new future, and it pleases me highly. 

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TRASH-UP!! Records Presents “Idol & Art 3”!!

One of my personally most-anticipated idol events of the year isn’t TIF, or Jam Expo. It doesn’t even even feature performances for that matter. For me, it’s the annual collaboration between TRASH-UP!! Records and Tokyo’s Mograg Gallery, “Art and Idol”, now in it’s third incarnation! It’s a simple and irresistible premise, an art show where all the art is created by idols. Now it’s it’s third edition, it’s fantastic to see this event be so successful and well-regarded.

https://twitter.com/mograggarage/status/1154002383682166785?s=20

When you think about it, it’s a perfect idea because the idol world is packed with wonderfully artistic talent who are always pursuing multiple ways to express themselves. As it’s been covered before in this blog, idols, especially within the chika circles, are multi-layered creatives who consistently deliver an entire package of intriguing work beyond singing and dancing.

With previous showings, it’s been the practice to keep the artwork under wraps until the opening, and then after a few days, images of the participant’s artwork pops up online via social media. I find it fascinating to see what the idols came up with, and in some cases, it’s illuminating to see their creative output because it offers a new peek into their personalities. Other times, it’s just cheeky fun. (Like the time the Dot-chans presented miniature terrariums with chirping crickets inside!)  But regardless of what they do, it’s never boring. Continue reading

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We Review Things: Kai’s “Moonlight Tokyo”

Ever since it was announced that Aqbi superstar Kai was joining the TRASH-UP!! roster, I’ve been looking forward to hearing what she’d be doing as a solo artist. Kai of course, is no stranger to TRASH-UP!!, having been part of the oddball folk song trio Engawa, (Most often referred to in these parts as “The weird Beni/Kai thing”) and considering the close ties between my favorite idol label and Aqbi, (Including Yoneko and Mizuho connections!) it made perfect sense as career transition…

Anyway, there’s been a bit of an anxious delay on my part because I tried to order “Moonlight Tokyo” from Amazon Japan and it was momentarily listed with a possibly two month shipping delay. (!) I don’t know if I’m correct in my theory, but I’d like to believe that’s because it was a surprisingly bigger seller than anticipated, so that’s what I’m running with. It pleases me to share that the digital version is finally online!! streaming with Spotify and Apple Music, and the latter platform is selling it via iTunes as well. For lossless purists, I keep checking on OTOTOY but no luck just yet, but don’t assume it won’t happen eventually.

So anyway, how is Kai’s solo debut? Continue reading

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All Kai All The Time!

I was just like everybody else when There There There’s announced their disbandament.  A little disappointed, a little confused, and a little worried about where all our favorite ravenesque girls were all going to go. Thankfully, most of it worked out well, with some former members like Rere and Mei staying with AQBI, and in a completely appropriate and perfect twist of serendipity, Mizuho and Kai seamlessly joining the roster of TRASH-UP!! Records, which is also a home for another former AQBI mainstay, Yoneko, who’s working harder than ever as a self-produced idol.

But this post is all about Kai, (!) the delightfully deadpan idol who, despite her detached demeanor, somehow easily connects with her fans in her very own way. I’ve always really liked Kai and her rather non-idolish approach to being an idol, and I’ve been looking forward to see she how adapts to the stage as a soloist, so let’s check out her first MV, a number called “Moonlight Tokyo”

How about this song? It’s no secret that it’s an easy sell on me when you go 80’s retro, so that’s certainly no complaint! It’s a terrific tune that I’ve listened to on repeat several times already since it debuted. I have no idea if this synth-dance-groove thing is an indicator of her future work or just a one-off tune, we’ll just need to see, but I’d be totally cool with Kai becoming a neo-city-pop queen and making a regular gig out of this sound. All the same, I have an equally positive feeling that with TRASH-UP!! at the helm, she’ll be trying out other genres as well and testing some unexpected waters for the benefit of all of us.

And what about this MV?  I enjoy it’s quirky VHS (or is it Betamax?) look, complete with an old-school aspect ratio and it’s blown-out-saturation. Also, the video brilliantly tackles a classic debate that even the idol world contends with: Are you a cat or dog person? I keep telling people, “Why not both?”, and it makes me pleased-as-punch to see that Kai agrees with me!

The video also answers another anticipated question: Would the TRASH-UP!! incarnation of Kai, with her newly colored hair and a wardrobe other than black crow costumes, maintain the classic Kai personality-type we’ve come to know and adore? It sure looks that way! She’s just as endearingly disconnected as ever, coming off as the sort of person who’s far more comfortable with a couple of cute pets than a room of chanting wota, and doggone it (see what I did there.), that’s the Kai we love! Would you really want it another way?

At present, I haven’t seen any word yet on any actual releases for Kai yet, digital or otherwise, but I think that’ll happen soon. Currently she’s preparing for her live debut and cooking up some merch that she showed off (see above) on twitter. There’s also an official website for her solo work, appropriately with the perfect domain name all-kai.com, cause this 100% pure Kai, and that’s just what we the people need!

https://twitter.com/mizuho_TUR/status/1119952235683651584?s=20

I think we’re off to a good start here! And we still have Mizuho’s upcoming idol group, ATOMIC MINISTRY (Which is an awesome group name!!) currently in it’s audition phase to still look forward to. I keep repeating it for the people in the back, TRASH-UP!! is the real future idol dynasty to watch out for, and I’d recommend paying attention to all the exciting things they have in the works.

 

 

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