LiLii Kaona celebrated their three-year anniversary this past weekend with a special live at Moon Romantic, and they had a lot to celebrate. LiLiKao’s incredibly productive third year has included the release of their startling EP, KIYOKU, their first DVD, and non-stop performances including frequent appearances on the MoonRomantic Channel and the beyond excellent Tribu.pre live series. However, despite their near-constant activity, LiLii Kaona may still rank among the best kept secrets in chika idol.
It is well beyond time for that to change. Although we are about a month away from considering the Best of 2020 nominations, if there is any justice in the world (spoiler alert: there is not) LiLii Kaona should be a finalist in the category of Best EP for KIYOKU, Song of the Year for the impeccable “Rust”, and now, after premiering during their 3rd anniversary live, Best MV:
For the uninitiated, LiLii Kaona is the duo of KOYUKI and YUKA who are centered around the creation of deeply emotional songs complemented by affectively graceful choreography. Although they may use digital elements in their music, their focus is on more natural, orchestral sounds and rhythms in a style they characterize as “Organica”.
Genre-wise, they could be considered among the dreampop and shoegaze idols like RAY and Maison Book Girl. Musically, however, while most current composers tend to experiment with polyrhythm, repetition and dissonance, LiLiKao instead leans heavily on familiarity and harmony; creating something new and unexpected but with a sense of warmth and intimacy.
“Amaoto”, off their 2019 debut album, sasara, is a perfect example of their aesthetic:
LiLii Kaona quietly released their latest EP, KIYOKU (the title seems to be a playful combination of their two names), in late April after all of their launch plans were obliterated by the COVID crisis. Coming out when it did, the EP became an instant fixture in my quarantine playlist and, along with the rest of the LiLiKao discography, has become a comforting element of my daily soundtrack during this long period of isolation. The four tracks of KIYOKU incorporate some new sounds into their trademark Organica including jazz flute and stand-up bass on “Kodou” (translation: “beat”), and a dip into city pop on “Reverberation”. The electrifying masterpiece on the EP however, is “Rust”.
The studio sound being only half of their aesthetic, LiLii Kaona places heavy focus on choreography and the total performative experience. I heavily recommend tuning in the next time they broadcast one of their frequent shows via livestream. In the meantime, here they are performing “Rust” with the help of friends XOXO EXTREME:
That chorus hits like a lightning strike: a sudden ethereal flash that grounds itself in something concrete while the emotional vocals rumble through you like approaching thunder. Surprising, beautiful and impossible to ignore, just like LiLii Kaona themselves.