Episode 02 of Derek Vasconi’s documentary series, The Flowers of Passion was made available for streaming on Friday, and I dug into it almost immediately.
The episode packs a lot into 73 minutes, giving us XOXO EXTREME’s thoughts on the history of idol and the difficulties of holding a place in it, some dramatically personal insight into what it is like to be 14th Generation Toilet Hanako-San, footage from a special acoustic set by NaNoMoRaL, and a behind-the-scenes look at LiLii Kaona’s creative processes including the birth of their incomparable tune, “Rust”.
This is all delivered via extremely candid conversations and intimate performance footage capturing the action both on stage and in the studio. So far, the strength of the series stems from the presentation of the interviews and performances largely without external narration or commentary. Other than the first several minutes of episode one (which we reviewed here), the only editorial context comes from infrequent captions that usually serve an introductory purpose. The end result is that what we see and hear is almost entirely the unfiltered thoughts of the idols and their management or production staff. Continue reading →
It’s not every day that we get new long form content from the underground idol scene, especially now that we are in this whole sanitary disaster. So it was with great curiosity that I rented Derek Vasconi’s first episode of his documentary series Flowers of Passion.
Derek Vasconi has made his mark in the idol scene through several ventures: he organized the East Meets West Music Festival, and went on to create the idol merch website Idol Underworld, which aims to make idol merch more accessible for overseas fans, as well as producing original merch, like the many idol exclusive photobooks. Idol Underworld also has a sister site called Cheki World, a second-hand market to allow oversea fans to sell and trade their covetable idol polaroids. Flowers of Passion is his first foray into film and his first documentary.
It’s been long awaited. Yukueshirezutsurezure (aka Not Secured, Loose Ends) has spent a lot of time in the studio re-recording songs with the current lineup, leading to BrightDark and DarkBright. But with Paradox Soar, they prove it wasn’t reheating old content for the sake of nostalgia: the unit was being developed under the character of Mei Yui Mei’s leadership, voices were being seasoned and the good stuff was coming.
Paradox Soar, the group’s third full album, has sixteen tracks on its sole edition, which includes all of the members’ solo songs. The twelve songs with the whole group are split equally between their single releases (including B-sides) and 6 new songs. As a whole, the album covers a wide range of territory that Tsurezure hasn’t delved into before.
There was so much to cover that Papermaiden and DAEMON had to join forces to write this review.
When ・・・・・・・・・ (vocalized as “Dots” or “Dots Tokyo”) emerged onto the idol scene in late 2016 with their shoegaze music and unorthodox presentation, it was a surprisingly much needed breath of fresh air from the saturated market of overcolored aesthetics and systematic cheerful, yet often contrived, songs predominant in idol culture. Along with this new approach to the genres of music that idols perform, the group attached an eccentric mythos to their profile, implementing things like all members are named ・(a single dot) but have nicknames that change every so often and go by themes such as vegetables or even infrastructures (one member was nicknamed “Konbini”, the Japanese word for “convenience store”). Visors were worn over the eyes of the members to conceal their identities, which established them as both an innovative and mysterious idol group. They quickly gained fans in not only the idol spectrum, but also among fans of shoegaze and indie rock outside of the J-pop music sphere, and in 2018 released their debut album『 』(a title with no words but actually 9 half-width spaces), which proved to be one of the best albums of that year. Unfortunately, the following year the inevitable fate which many idols have succumbed to was met, and the group was dissolved after performing a final one-man live at Tokyo Kinema Club on March 24, 2019. Continue reading →
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…
One of the best things about listening to a concept album is immersing yourself into the music and simultaneously living in that moment of the sounds being produced almost as if you had astral projected directly into the experience. With MIGMA SHELTER’s newly released full album “ALICE” we get transported right into the wacky, twisted, animated world of the classic story of Alice in Wonderland. Anyone familiar with the Disney animated film adaptation can take one glance at the song titles in the tracklisting and notice words or phrases that relate to the story and even see that it is also in chronological order. One thing I will recommend here: wear headphones because you will want to hear everything on this album. Continue reading →
Amidst the pandemic, some idols companies have thrived to make the best of it. Video-making-company-turned-music-label Codomomental has not only been doing regular streamed liveshows (mostly for their idol groups), they have also done some recording and announced music releases.
The time has finally come to release B.W.G. into the world. Initially, the recording was supposed to be released as gift to fans who reserved their tickets for the oneman show Bipropaganda. It’s now the A-side of their newest offering available to all.
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.
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…
♫This is Cinema and Boy CQ’s new album. “The Picture Show of Chronic Deja Vu”
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…