I Don’t Know Who This “Margaret” Is, But The All-New avandoned Is Terrific!

The avandoned fans among us have certainly known about the new six-member incarnation of the group for a few months now, enjoying their activity on social media along with bits of live footage, but also eager to get an official release, so now at last we  have an honest-to-goodness MV of the unit together to promote their new (and yet also first) single, “Margaret”! The song is written by singer/songwriter Hana Tsuruuchi , who also wrote “Hello” and “Vadittsu!!” for avandoned previously. ..

I think that Tsuruuchi is a perfect contributor to this group. Her songs have that uplifting positive-vibe feeling that blends nicely with the group’s can-do spirit, and yet and are unique and quirky* enough that they never feel like sentimental cliches. This song is rich and wonderful, and no, I don’t really know who “Margaret” is, but I’m sure she’s a fine young lady who makes cool arts and crafts, owns a lot of hip records, plays a nice piano, and besides, if avandoned like her, that’s all I need to know anyway…

Classic idol group MV trope unlocked: The “Girls running through the streets” shot!

I think this new passage for the group sparks some interesting thoughts as well. It’s a fascinating thing about idol groups, the way they can be a seemingly inseperable unit only day, and then in a very short course of time, can reboot into something new and fresh. When I think about it, making a major departure from the established image of a group is probably the best move in a business that demands keeping the fans on board and constantly working to bring new ones into the fold.

Beni Usakura, who is the leader, producer and primary creative force of avandoned, commented about the challenges of expanding into a larger group, such as finding songs that work for a six-person group as opposed to a duo, the changes in vocal distribution in previous songs, and the new choreography requirements that come with more people on stage. It’s really not much different than launching an entirely new group, even if the name on the marquee is the same.

Margaret” will be released this month on the 26th, and in true idol form, will have two versions available. Also included is a coupling song that translates to “Prescription Warfare” and the two versions will include new line-up recordings of “After School” and “Exploding Romance”, each pressed to one of the variants.

Extra bonus video: Here’s the avandoned girls performing “Hello” with with Hana Tsuruuchi! 

*I’m pretty sure every single article I’ve written about avandoned utilized the word “quirky”. I see no reason to stop that! 

 

 

Cinema & Boy CQ Elevates Idol Beyond Our Preconceptions…

Sokichi Osada had a plan for his own idol group that would be a unique and daring take on the genre and he created, produced, and managed a group with that mission in mind. That group, Shoujo Kakka no International, was probably born too soon to really enjoy the fruits of the underground boom of nontraditional, experimental idols, but they were certainly legendary among those in the know. As many great and daring projects go, the financial stress of running an idol group proved to be unprofitable and difficult, and so it came to an end. Sokichi took time to write a series of essays titled “The Idol Suicides” about his experience for a web-magazine that’s no longer around, but thanks to some reaching out from our very own Papermaiden, we were given the privliedge of republishing the essays on this very blog.

But despite Girls Excellency International’s collapse, Sokichi’s creative idol bug wasn’t out of his system yet. Almost immediately, he began work on forming a new idol group that was even more experimental and unique than his first brainchild. A group with an intriguing vision, or has he put it into his own words…

Cinema and Boy CQ make some of the most consistently interesting art  in the entire idol genre, and on multiple levels, they challenge and shatter nearly every pre-conceived idea of what idol music is. Continue reading

Okinawa Electric Girl Saya Has Projects You Can (And Should) Support!

It’s been far too long since we’ve talked about Okinawa Electric Girl Saya, but within the space of when we last discussed her idol/experimental art fusions and now, she’s truly been tireless in her pursuit of her craft. I’d say Saya is among the most relentlessly active people on the scene, with consistent live performances, new collaborations, (Hey Soze!) and recordings practically weekly if not daily. What may have begun as a casual dipping into the well of avant-garde audio has become a full-time embrace of the bolder and more outré edges of the musical spectrum…

For some time now, Saya’s been releasing monthly CDRs of her noise experiments that she sells at shows, but these releases are a bit hard to get hold of outside of Japan. If you recall in the previous article, I mentioned that Saya has a unique aura that would do quite well with the Bandcamp business model, and I’m pleased to tell you that currently there are indeed some selections available at last.

Aside from her own self-released works, Saya’s been offering a few of her collaborations via Terminal Explosion, a label based around noise, industrial, hip-hop, and underground electronica run by a mysterious beat-maker known only as Ax. Currently, there are two available CDR (or digital) releases and a collaboration album that you can pre-order, along with some nice little merch items!

The first is “Dischord”, an EP that features a beautifully unique take on a Okinawan folk song..

 

The second is “Mayhem” , a series of chaotic but compelling noise-blasts that go hard…

 

And soon-to-come is a full-length album titled “Chastity”, which you can pre-order now

 

The digital downloads for “Dischord” and “Mayhem” are “name your price”, or you can buy them as CDRs for ¥1,000 each with (very reasonable) international shipping available. The album “Chastity” has a pre-determined price digitally, but also has a few tangible package options that include a t-shirt, a badge, or even all three recordings as a bundle, so check out the options and see what looks good to you!

In addition to these cool releases, the ever-prolific noise maker is also currently about 80% done crowdfunding another entirely new album called “Black Angel” that as of this writing, only has about two days left! The funding site, Campfire, is intended to be used only in Japan, but it is possible to lend your support by using a service like Tenso to serve as your “Japanese address”, so there is a window to help if you wish…

And you know what the other cool thing is? We’re not even half-way through the year yet, so it’s realistic to expect that this flurry of output for 2019 isn’t even close to being finished yet! What else will Saya do, and who else will she collaborate with? I don’t think she’s conceding any limitations on what she’ll accomplish. That’s what keeps an artist artist fresh and exciting, so let’s all enjoy where the trip takes us, and support her wherever we can. 

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…

https://twitter.com/tokyo_tsukurou/status/1116686540153819137?s=20

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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Eat, Drink and be Merry Merli

When we heard Merry Merli were coming back, there wasn’t a lot to go on, just a short clip saying they would restart on March 13.  So what happened with that, I hear no-one asking?  Their Twitter got reactivated, a website appeared, and the members of the rebooted Merry Merli were introduced.  But I missed all that, until a new MV dropped yesterday.

That’s “Drink me, Eat me” and isn’t it pretty?  I spent my first play through trying to work out why one of the girls looked so familiar and trying to work out what group I might have seen her in before.  Turns out I’m stupid and that group was…Merry Merli, as Maria Otonashi was in the group the first time around and is now the centre — and the producer!  Together with her new cohorts Yumeka and Elise they bring you a group with the theme “Alice in the bright and the dark side” and doesn’t that sound delightful?

Sorry metalheads, if this is all a bit soft and girly.  They can do dark and spooky too, let me find you an old example …

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The Cycle of Life in Aqbi Idols, Part Deux

It feels like we just did this

In keeping with today’s apparent theme, let’s take a few minutes to acknowledge the death of one of the true giants of our scene and the life that’s springing forth from that destruction.

The other day, THERE THERE THERES held their final performance, a joint show with their longtime besties in You’ll Melt More!(.) You can and should watch the literal whole thing:

Heck, here’s a bunch of photos, too: Continue reading

We Interview Idols: YONEKO

In this current early 2019 period of disbandments, graduations and letdowns, a favourite from all the way since the birth of Homicidols has instead gone down an opposite route. Herself being a victim of the “start of the year curse” just last year, Yoneko has been buckling down hard to make sure there’s at least one idol providing consistent positivity through the tides of bad news from other performers. In just three months, Yoneko has graced us with a digital single, three CD-Rs, a fantastic collaboration with FEATURES and three music videos.

Most recently, she has been making a passionate effort to reach out to her fans outside of Japan, turning her into a beloved figure amongst the western idol fandom almost overnight.

She’s even going through the trouble of setting up a Bandcamp for overseas fans, despite the burden being so tedious it led her to drop a curse word or two!

As she welcomed her overseas fandom with open arms, Yoneko expressed her interest in being interviewed by foreign blogs. And, well, as a foreign blog that has followed her career since 2016, how could we not take such an opportunity? And so, via a few email exchanges, Yoneko was more than happy to answer some of our questions. Continue reading

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.

NaNoMoRaL Grace Us With an MV, a New Song, & Lots of Feeling…

The power duo NaNoMoRaL have been charming us with some really terrific music since last year, with their debut EP “Nisan ka Tanso” being one of my personal favorite releases of 2018. When you combine Amamiya Miku‘s raw, emotional vocals, and terrific stage presence with Kajiwara Paseli‘s tech wizardry and secondary vocals, you have a group that’s proven themselves to be a unit worth watching.

I feel like 2019 could be a highly eventful year for these two, so it’s welcome news to see their first true “MV” finally released, and it’s for a new song at that!

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Meet avandoned…

The idol world doesn’t slow down for a second, does it?  And especially so if you’re one of the busiest bees in this bustling business, that is Beni Usakura. In a relatively short span, (especially in idol years), she’s gone from an abandoned audition candidate to group member to group leader, organizer, producer, marketer, and all-around DIY master of a hearty never-say-die group that is a breathing manifestation of her creative energy.

During the entire taxing process of preparing for Kotao’s departure, she’s been holding auditions for new members to keep her beloved group’s legacy going. Beni decided to tease us a bit for a couple of days, but at last, we’ve been introduced to her first officially inducted member… Continue reading