Asa-Chang & Junray Minna No Junray

[Ki/oon Japan; 2005]

Rating: 5/5

Styles: onkyo, electro-organic
Others: Otomo Yoshihide, Björk

I'll go ahead and admit it. I feel a little guilty about suiting up to drive the Asa-Chang pimpmobile again, and now I feel a little crumby about presuming anyone even remembers Asa-Chang, and that now makes me feel a little twinge of failure, because by all means any fan of anything that isn't in the Radio City chorus-verse-chorus line should be demanding of their favorite music publication's pullout glossy fanbeardboy posters of this brilliant man -- or at least some shows outside of Japan. And that's just based on a three-track-two-of-the-same-song EP. My guilt bubbles up to mentionable levels due to those two songs appearing on this full-length, tempering my guilt is that one has been heavily reworked and improved. However, making that guilt utterly irrelevant is this album being absolutely essential.

And so I sit here and find myself having not a damned clue how to tell you, piqued reader, the reasons for this assertion. At a recent Noisily Famous Fete, I had the pleasure of meeting and brokenly befriending a Japanese fellow who had read about the event and made his way to it by himself in a relatively inaccessible corner of the Big City, very charming and inspiring. Point being, he told me that Asa-Chang is popular in Japan. And, I believe, he meant like ON TV POPULAR. Possibly jarring at the time, it seems to make sense now, and not because the Japanese should be commended for their taste. Rather, because AC should be commended for his skill in making his wholly unusual music sound so natural. Maybe I'm just a prick, but a world in which this album's "Parlor" would be a radio single and the inscrutably titled 4th song would be the cherished Deep Track makes just as much sense as the one we're in, with Modest Mouse or Interpol filling this role. But, fuck, I'd probably be obligated to sneer at it if it were.

I'll satiate all interested parties with a little exposition on this 4th song. You've heard enough about what I think, but here's a little bonus turd. Insofar as I'll call anything the ideal of songwriting, I'd say doing exactly what needs to be done and no more is it. Forgiving a little vocal faux-pas that serves as a transition, this is what we have here. The beginning of the song is just AC singing with some guitar, establishing a cadence and hinting at the upcoming mantra. Enter a slowly swelling synth and a hand-drum. The drum is used to accentuate the cadence and fool the ear into thinking the singer has an uncanny ability to shift pitch and halt his singing. We are then subtly informed that we've shifted into computer-assisted territory, and this familiar rhythm and mantra are turned up notch after notch to swirl to an ecstatic finish.

If you're interested but unsure of what to expect, good! If you need further convincing, scroll down and read the EP's review. On the whole, I think it's a respectable job of conveying what I find to be so unique and special about this music.

1. Parlor
2. Senaka
3. Track 3
4. Track 4
5. Track 5
6. Track 6
7. Track 7
8. Kutu #4

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