A bit late in posting this because I actually have a lot more material related to this topic that I wanted to gather and post on successive days, but here’s last month’s Japan Times column.
This topic came out of a couple of long, rambling conversations I had with Taigen Kawabe from UK-based prog/psych band Bo Ningen during the Kyushu leg of the band’s most recent Japan tour, in particular the post-gig drinking session after the final gig of the tour in Fukuoka, which ended up as a fiercely fought discussion among a group of people who shared two main things in common: a background in underground and experimental music and a love of idol groups. Following on from that, I got back in touch with Taigen again the following week and carried out a short interview with him on what he thinks the reasons behind this love affair between the music’s noisiest and poppiest fringes might be. Thanks also go out to Ryotaro Aoki of the band Kulu Kulu Garden, who I didn’t quote directly, but who took some time out to talk to me and was very helpful as well.
This is nothing new of course, although what is new is that in Momoiro Clover Z, there seems to be an idol group that could have been made for freaky music people. I managed to say most of what I wanted in the article, but here are a few links that illustrate some of what I’m saying.
When I talk about Bo Ningen shifting rhythms, this video gives some idea of what I mean, although it’s really their longer, more psychedelic songs that see it in full force:
Next, here’s the latest Momoiro Clover Z single, which is a pretty typical example of their penchant for chopping between different melodic segments:
And here’s Taigen’s Bo Ningen/Momoclo mashup:
One thing I didn’t go into, and which Patrick Macias has written about more extensively than I, is the way Momoiro Clover play up to a certain fascination with pro wrestling, an influence which Taigen also admits to in this Time Out Tokyo interview, and which relates to the point he makes in my column, where he talks about the way idol music can recreate some of the feeling he used to get from listening to music as a child (wrestlers’ intro music affected him in the same way as a child).
Anyway, I’ll put the second stage of this up tomorrow, including the full text of Taigen’s interview, and we’ll see whether this love affair is requited or not with some comments by the idol group Dempa Gumi inc. who have collaborated with Bo Ningen.