Luminous101 – namari​ /​ CLK

In the earnest way they combine complexity with accessibility, Luminous101 sound like a flashback to the Tokyo alternative scene of ten to fifteen years ago — days when the great hope of the Tokyo underground were bands like Nhhmbase and Suiseinoboaz, and a suspiciously large number of new bands sounded like they had harnessed their ambitions to the legacy of The Dismemberment Plan. You can hear it in Namari with its mix of soft, almost easy-listening melodies with intricate structural and rhythmical transitions. The other side of this single, CLK, builds around the interplay between a funky groove and a metronomic, looping guitar line, balanced somewhere in the middle ground between post-punk and math rock, in a way that shares some (admittedly softer-edged) parallels to where Number Girl were positioned around the time of Num-Heavymetallic.

The time period this single evokes is starting to come into focus in the form of local scene history now, with its survivors beginning to contemplate what it meant and what made it special. One of the things that stands out is the optimism about the commercial possibilities of really quite unconventional musical ideas, purely on their own musical merits rather than sold as part of an image, and that’s the feeling Luminous101 leave on this single. As the places that fostered the early 2000s Tokyo alternative scene deal with the effects of major staff turnover (Shinjuku Motion) or the danger of COVID-driven closure (Akihabara Club Goodman), I have to wonder where this music now fits in, but hearing the echoes of that indie optimism in the context of now also feels strangely reassuring.

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