Tag Archives: Kulu Kulu Garden

Ten Years of Live Music in Tokyo Part 5: Tropical Death Metal

The newest band on the bill for my ten year anniversary event (September 27th just in case you forgot, kids!) is also one of the bands I have the most deeply rooted relationships with: Tropical Death Metal. The show on the 27th is their first ever performance, but all members are or have previously been involved with projects connected with or related to things I’ve done, so perhaps the best thing to do would be to go through the group member by member.

Guitarist Eugene Roussin has recorded for Call Ant Response twice as part of the magnificent stoner rock trio Human Wife, producing covers of electro idol trio Perfume’s song Game and most recently Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.

Bassist Shingo “Rally” Nakagawa you should already know through his past life as a member of The Mornings, whose debut album Save The Mornings! was my album of the year in 2011 and their song Fuji featured on Call And Response’s 2012 Dancing After 1AM compilation. Nakagawa and The Mornings have since parted ways, but a second Mornings album is due to come out very soon and Nakagawa has been active with another band, the drum machine postpunk/mutant disco of Han Han Art, who also contributed a cover of Paranoid to Call And Response’s free Valentine’s download compilation.

Drummer Sean McGee is active in a number of bands, most relevantly for the purpose of this blog the post-rock band Henrytennis, although he is a familiar face in a number of Call And Response-related projects either as a member or guest musician, including his own solo project which is currently in the works.

Lastly, the band’s other guitarist Ryotaro Aoki has been all over the place. I recently wrote about his new project Looprider on this site, he appeared on three tracks on my Sabbath/Paranoid covers compilation, he produced the Quit Your Band! zine with me, and Japanese indie fans with memories that stretch back a few years will remember him from the terrific Kulu Kulu Garden.

Tropical Death Metal then is the work of these four musical hired guns — Call And Response Records’ version of the Wrecking Crew, Swampers or Funk Brothers — and it’s obviously very exciting to have them debuting the material they’ve created together at my event. The band have recorded this demo as a taster.

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Looprider: Farewell

Looprider is the latest band/musical project of former Kulu Kulu Garden guitarist Ryotaro Aoki, who longtime readers may recognise as an occasional contributor to this blog and a frequent collaborator with various Call And Response Records projects. Writing about the musical output of someone you know very well is always a challenge, because of the difficulty in stepping back and hearing the music with fresh ears. On the other hand, it can also make it easier to see where a musician is coming from and put a song into context.

In Aoki’s case, a few key reference points it’s always worth bearing in mind with his music are Black Sabbath, My Bloody Valentine, Judy And Mary, Smashing Pumpkins and Melt Banana. More broadly, we can boil that down to a love of shoegaze and US alt-rock, an appreciation for pop, and an understanding of the value of dance beats, all underscored by a sense that whatever he does should rock.

Farewell is a contrary title for a debut, but as a distillation of the above ideas and influences that nevertheless stands apart from them all musically, it’s as good an introduction as you could hope for. The place it ends up lends it most obviously to comparisons with Futurama/Highvision-era Supercar, with the insistent underlying beat and the interplay between the dreampop-esque male and female vocals (the latter courtesy of Merpeoples’ Charlotte) recalling the 2000 single (and this song’s near namesake) Fairway. Farewell is rhythmically more intricate though, with drummer Sean McGee (of post-rock/prog band Henrytennis) working an almost Madchester-like shuffle around the strict 4/4 dance beat that remains the song’s rhythmical core — an organic mask that only slips briefly when the rhythm breaks down around the 3:30 mark and shows a glimpse of its cyborg soul.

Despite the dance thump that underpins the rhythm, Farewell is still a song that holds tightly to its rock influences, leaning heavily on Yujiro Imada’s bass, Aoki audibly throwing shapes on his guitar, and unashamed to tear into a desperately unfashionable hair metal guitar solo at the midway point. There is apparently more to come from these sessions, which can only be welcome in a Japanese indie scene that’s crying out for a propulsive, melodic and unpretentiously rocking band like this.

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Filed under Reviews, Track