Top 20 Releases of 2015: No.12– Lihappiness – Shiyo

One of the best things about Lihappiness is the way that he takes musical influences that fashion dictates should be processed and served back in a certain way, and uses them as the starting point for something utterly unique in the Japanese music scene.

Opening with One Sequence, like Cluster sped up to a breakneck industrial clatter, Shiyo leads straight into the high-speed new wave funk of the Pigbag-esque Coba, then into the dubbed-out hip hop-via-Kraftwerk of Walk & Scratch. If you’re the sort of person who finds the idea of a new wave geek in a bedroom somewhere in Kanagawa adding breakbeats to krautrock and rapping confusingly over it inherently appealing, I probably don’t need to do much more to sell this album to you. That would do this album a disservice, though: it’s good entirely on its own merits.

While the songs are by and large content to rattle along at their own pace and then stop, Shiyo is nonetheless overflowing with ideas that present themselves according to a logic that makes sense only after spending some time with the album. Until that point, however, Lihappiness ensures the confusion is at least an entertaining one, filling it with hooks and an insistent, forward momentum that’s infectious in its enthusiasm. Sanka Beat and Yang Acid both conceal legitimately wonderful pop songs somewhere inside them.

Taken as a whole with his broader body of work, it feels like Lihappiness is engaged here in an ambitious project to go back to the original source material and reconstruct techno from the ground up in his own peculiar way. On the evidence of Shiyo, Lihappiness is taking it to some exciting places.

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