Shallazurutaralli: Z:die Z:die

Z:die Z:die

CD/R, Pong Kong Records, 2014

If you like your retro 80s synthpop cheap, catchy and sparse, Shallazurutaralli is for you. It’s a musical space a lot of other groups have been before, certainly, but there’s a sincerity, melodic craftsmanship and minimalist purity in these six songs that ensures they claim a small part of that territory for themselves.

The male-female vocal harmonies are neatly handled, subtle enough not to leap out at you, but lending an understated texture to the music, and the arrangements to a lot with just a rhythm machine, a handful of toy synth drones and a few beeps. Z:die Z:die opens and closes with its catchiest pop hitters in Ningen Engine and Kimagure Tentai (Stella), but also tucked away in there is Higashi Nishi Minami Kita, in which synths and vocals engage in a sort of rambling musical conversation, like a sort of solar powered version of Taeko Onuki’s Metropolitan Museum climbing a hill as scudding clouds repeatedly block out its power source.

Z:die Z:die packs a lot of pop nous into 25 minutes, and extracts a disarming amount of sophistication from a limited musical palette. Cheap, cheerfull and thoroughly charming.

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