That Time Okinawa Electric Girl Saya Teamed Up With Hijokaidan…

Peeps, allow me to just apologize right off the bat, because this MV came just over week ago and I kinda sat on it cause real life sometimes keeps me from writing about cool stuff I’d really like to talk about. But hey, this glorious new offering from Okinawa Electric Girl Saya is still relevant and deserves more views, so here we are, dagnabbit!

Anyway, the world’s busiest avant-garde idol released what I believe is her 536th release last month, and at last, it’s a CD that we should’ve suspected was inevitable: That’s right, Saya has finally teamed up with the legendary “Kings of Noise” Hijokaidan! And yes, the the project is indeed referred to as “Sayakaidan” because that’s the traditional naming convention for all  Hijokaidan/idol collaborations.

And we’ve got this evocative, beautifully shot MV to get the mood just right. Let’s go check it out…

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avandoned: Ending Is Beginning.

When you’ve become fully ingrained into idol fandom, there’s certain inveitable events that you learn to anticipate and mentally prepare for, such as when a twitter account belonging to a group you love posts an image containing a stark few blocks of text. Yeah, you know the type of post I mean…

This is idol, and this is the world we’ve put ourselves into, but it’s a little different when it’s a group that’s particularly dear to you. It’s more personal, more emotional, it’s something you feel inside your stomach. It’s understandable and okay.  Continue reading

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The More HAMIDASYSTEM Changes, the More Totally I Love Them

I was almost all the way out the door yesterday when Team began to rapidly hoot and holler their enthusiasm for a new thing from HAMIDASYSTEM, who it will not surprise you to learn will be appearing in the Homicidols Best of 2019 voting. Seeing as how I was on my way out the door, no man, no matter how much I love this impossible little art project, I wasn’t going to stop. There was pie at stake! And sweet potatoes and the like!

But now that it’s just me and the aftermath of my gluttony to deal with, I can take the time to appreciate what it was that folks were so smitten by, and–

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RAY Drops a Visually Stunning Meteor of Emotions and Reverb…

It was just mere days ago we were talking about that wonderful footage of RAY performing live in Taiwan, and we took a moment to also mention that the group will also be releasing their first single/EP, entitled “Blue”. The release has lovely cover art and an extremely impressive roster of collaborators. Now we’ve been blessed with another highly anticipated track on the disk, “Meteor”, featuring an instrumental arrangement by Elliot Frazier of the highly regarded Austin band Ringo Deathstarr!

This is one of those times and RAY is one of those groups where I try to remain self-aware of my effusive praise and realize that if I get too over-the-top raving about how much I love this, I run the risk making some of you question if my judgment is clouded by my gushing enthusiasm. Yeah well, I’m raving cause Holy Moses I love this song to the moon and back.

Even if this wasn’t one of my favorite groups currently on the scene, I’d be still incredibly excited and wanting more. The wash of the guitars, the reverb, bubbling bass and the drums are just perfect examples of the musical influences of this group. And the lush, almost buried (Sung in English, no less.) vocals are beautiful indeed! There’s a bit of a half-joking argument in shoegaze circles that in this genre, the vocals need to be barely heard and nearly indecipherable to be truly gazing at shoes, and this certainly does that, adding a delicious air of mystery to the song. (The actual lyrics are in the YouTube description, by the way.) 

As for the MV, it’s just gorgeous, brimming with sensory overload and yet an underlying feeling of melancholia. It intimately captures how a megacity like Tokyo can be at equal turns exciting and bursting with bustling activity, but yet at the same time be the most oppressively lonely place on Earth.  Notice how the MV begins with high-tech consumer-driven dazzle, but by the end, mundane images of street cleaning and trash collection work their way in, as the superficial wonder of the city gives way to garbage bags and emotionally exhausted people hanging their heads low on the late-night streets.

There’s so many amazing shots here, from the wide pans over the busy intersections to the close-ups of pay phones and long treks down vacancies corridors, that tell us a dozen stories at once. And binding everything together is RAY member Marino Kai wandering through it all, trying to simply get through this night and maybe hopefully finding something better tomorrow as she pauses to silently sip a beer.

RAY is delivering on it’s every promise here. A beautiful merging of music, art, and the concepts of idol in complex, fascinating ways, with collaborations by top talent. I hope this upcoming release really puts them on the map, and that people everywhere take notice. I would love to see this group visit Austin and perform at SXSW, showing the real potential of this genre beyond the old idol tropes and stereotypes. Here’s wishing them the best! 

https://twitter.com/_RAY_world/status/1180784780381569024?s=20

 

 

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Okinawa Electric Girl Saya Is a “Black Angel”…

Okinawa Electric Girl Saya’s new album “Black Angel” is finally out, and she’s been working overtime doing shows and publicity to promote it!  Not only is she consistently interesting and daring with her musical choices, but with a non-stop succession  of live performances and a highly active social media presence, Saya has also emerged to be easily one of the most tirelessly committed artists on the scene right now. I’m really not sure if she actually sleeps or has a battery pack hidden under her black clothing.

The avant-garde idol from Okinawa is also quite prolific, releasing a steady stream of experimental CDRs nearly monthly along with her regular output. A few of those works are even on Bandcamp, which we covered here a months ago. Her new album is a crowd-funded effort, featuring quite a number of collaborative guests helping this unique vision come  out in what’s certainly her biggest push on the edge of the envelope yet. Saya already released one MV last week, and now a second one has already arrived! Here’s the most recent, a video for “Black Flower”

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You Can Listen to the APOKALIPPPS Now!

Idol supergroup APOKALIPPPS have been active for a while now, but unfortunately a bit out of reach for us Western fans. The group is still very much an indie thing and their previous singles haven’t been terribly assessable due to their limited distribution, so supporting the group has mostly consisted of cheering the group on from afar…

Well, cheer up peeps, because the APOKALIPPPS is finally reaching worldwide!

https://twitter.com/APOKALIPPPS_NOW/status/1160061863998083073?s=20

The wonder group has self-released an EP, “APOKALIPPPS ONGEN”, and it’s also seeing a digital release via the major streaming networks, so you have no excuse to sleep on it! I eagerly decided to give a listen…

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NaNoMoRaL Return With A Little MV And A Lot Of Heart..

The producer/singer duo of Amamiya Miku and Paseli-chan are one of the most active groups on the scene, playing tons of live shows and finding time for the occasional CD-R release to keep their flow of creative output fresh-faced and continuously evolving. Their group, NaNoMoRaL still remain one of the great stand-outs of a saturated scene, because they pursue their own vision and eskew the easier paths to more conventional success as an idol unit. This gamble pays off for them, at least on an artistic level, as they consistently make excellent, powerful music with lots of heart and courage!

The CD-R is a single song “Donen Shizuru” (I hope I got that right.) and it’s very much a continuation of one of the more unique and distinctive sounds to be found in idol circles. And as an extra treat, Amamiya stars in a low-key DIY MV to share the song with the world at large…

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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.

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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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! 

 

 

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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

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