Tag Archives: BP.

Shoegaze in Japan

I wrote an article for MTV 81 a few months ago about the current state of Japanese shoegaze, which seems to have got a bit of a shot in the arm from the My Bloody Valentine comeback and with Slowdive on their way to Japan this summer that little wave of interest perhaps hasn’t quite crested yet. Anyway, it took ages to be posted, which means it missed the Lemon’s Chair album release that I wrote it to coincide with, but it’s up now and a lot of what it says is still current. You can read the whole article here.

One of the things that came out of it was the way that shoegaze seems to have bled out into a lot of other genres now, and it’s especially interesting how many visual-kei musicians are involved in shoegaze as well. I suppose this has some parallels in the way bands like Deafheaven have drawn metal and shoegaze together.BP.: Goodbye Love

The article has a few embedded videos of some of the bands I talk about, and looking back, it’s worth noting that the Sugardrop album is one I definitely keep coming back to. The BP. album is probably the more interesting of the two though, mixing more styles together. On Goodbye Love you can hear it in the way it suddenly goes all metal at about the two-minute mark.The Earth Earth: Beautiful Future

I also really want to draw attention to the two new bands I mention in there. I’ve talked about The Earth Earth before, and they proudly wear their MBV influence on their sleeves with that perfectly recreated Kevin Shields distortion. When the vocals come in, however, it sounds more like Lush, without the washed out textures MBV drench their vocals in.Azma: Thousand Lights

Azma are less of a pastiche and perhaps a bit more musical in the sense of being technically minded. The Earth Earth feel essentially like a garage-punk band and their songs like pretty conventional pop tunes whereas Azma have that post-rock mindset that puts them more in the ballpark of local Fukuoka indie scenesters macmanaman. Both bands are good, but in different ways. The fact that they come from opposite ends of the country and have such contrasting approaches to the style made them a nice choice for the examples anyway.

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Top 20 Releases of 2013: No.13 – BP. – The New BP.

The New BP.

CD, Meguro Records, 2013

The release of my Bloody Valentine’s first new album in more than twenty years seems to have given new impetus to Japan’s diverse shoegaze scene, elements of which had come together at round the same time to produce the Yellow Loveless MBV covers album. Less well-publicised it may have been, but another 90s comeback produced one of the year’s finest Japanese rock albums. BP. had been inactive for more than fifteen years when they burst back onto the scene with The New BP. and it’s a corker.BP.: Goodbye, Love

Now you suspect that BP. hate being called shoegaze, but within seconds of opening track Goodbye, Love, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of that going on with them. At the same time, however, yes, there’s more to them, with Tomato Bazooka revealing a post-hardcore side, Puddle occasionally exploding into bursts of metal, and the band throughout delighting in chopping between different rhythms or between melodic and ear splittingly noisy moments in a way that’s very much of a piece with the contemporary Tokyo underground scene. These transitions are all expertly handled in the mix by producer AxSxE from jazz-prog psychedelicists Natsumen, who is one of the best engineers in Japan at making impossibly loud guitars sound gorgeous, and the result is a texturally rich sonic treat for tired ears.

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