CHIKA RADAR #1: 放課後403ERROR (Afterschool 403 Error)

Chika Radar #1: Afterschool 403 Error
The first group intercepted by our Chika Radar is 放課後403ERROR (Afterschool 403 Error): their new video is the perfect chance to get to know this unit.
As a web developer, I need to inform you that the 403 error code means forbidden. I’ve always been fascinated by artists using IT stuff for their names or titles and 放課後403ERROR (Afterschool 403 Error) does it right.

Last week, the group released a new music video and — while it’s clear that they are still growing — it sparked my interest. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s “腐國狂兵マアチ” (Kusa Kuni-Kyō-Hei Maachi).

The charm and the faults of a self-produced unit are both there, but the first outweigh the latter. Sure, the music is a bit raw and not the most refined out there — still, it’s metal-inspired stuff, what did you expect? — yet there are certainly positive elements. That accordion-like synth sounds kinda weird and a bit out of place, but to be honest its melody got stuck in my mind since the first listening. Also, that chorus is absolutely great, feels like being haunted by the cutest ghosts. And who doesn’t like a sample of “The Streets Of Cairo” at the beginning?

A couple of words about the video too: the setting in the woods fits the atmosphere of the song and the traditional Japanese-looking costumes are very nice. I’m a bit scared of that masked girl, but that’s ok. The choreography looks a bit simple and the video could have had better shots; then again, I’m perfectly fine with this kind of quality from a self-produced group at its second music video. What’s important is that they showed some potential for the future and following them through their evolution will be interesting.

Afterschool 403Error

Hopefully, in some time they will grow and get the chance to make something really great; for the time being, I’m putting 放課後403ERROR on my keep an eye on ’em list.

xoxo(Kiss&Hug) EXTREME – Works Collection #1

Works Collection #1 includes the first singles and two songs never recorder before by xoxo(Kiss&Hug) EXTREME, idol unit inspired by progressive rock.
Due to some (un)fortunate events regarding my purchases on Idol Underworld, I find myself with Works Collection #01 by xoxo EXTREME in my hands. I had never heard about them before, but I sure hope that we will hear more about them in the future.

We are talking about a four-member group born in 2016 which this year reached am enviable double goal: first album released and first one man live show at Shibuya WWW. The mini-album we will talk about is a compilation of the first singles and some never recorder before songs, “Progressive-Be-Bop” and “Kigurumi Planet”; moreover, the latter contains the contribution of the multi-instrumentalist Tim Donahue, known for in the prog scene as a musician and as harp-guitar producer.

It seems everything is in the correct place to make an interesting group and xoxo EXTREME don’t betray expectations: their music naturally mixes progressive rock’s complex stuff with the typical idol brightness, with odd tempos and dynamic basslines giving way to catchy pop choruses. Organs, flutes and various synths show how the work of the musicians isn’t just accompanying the four girl’s voices, often including long and elaborate instrumental parts in line with the genre.

The opening track “Utsu” is a perfect sum of everything said up to now: despite a title meaning depression, the chorus brings a nice amount of cheerfulness in a not very simple or linear song in which we can find synths and evocative, introspective passages. The prog side of the music is explred in many directions: “Progressive Be-Bop” relies on the organ parts and on a full of energy rhythmic section to build a very dynamic song; on the other hand, “Kigurumi Planet” get more into epic and dramatic stuff in which Japanese-sounding vocal lines blends with operatic singing, evolving to include even neoclassical influences.

Then, “Weekend Fantasia” is the most standard track, almost completely distant from the progressive sound, being actually fully j-pop; after all, it’s a nice proof that the unit can adapt to different styles, an ability used even more in “Ele-Fun-t Girl’s Talk”: this song is as strange as interesting, thanks to a combination of intense rhythms, electronic influences and idol-like vocals together with some sort of prog-experimental vein particularly strong in some passages.

All in all, Works Collection #1 is a good way get to know xoxo EXTREME: the potential of their music is apparent since the first listenings and the unique features of their sound hits the mark. I guess we should keep an eye on this unit, no doubts about it.

SARI: First Solo Live

Sari - First Live
After having left Necronomidol, Sari begins her solo adventure showing off all of her artistic, aesthetic and musical soul in her first concert.
For people following the alt-idol scene, Sari doesn’t need introductions, but let’s make a short summary for the few who don’t have never heard of her: original member of Necronomidol, known for her unusual look including green hair, a whiter than snow make up and a spider on her cheek. After leaving the group at the beginning of this year, in August she released a new song on her new YouTube channel titled “Kyusai” with a painting also made by her. Finally, in September, we got a video of her first live show.

Corpse-like make up, not anymore: in this new artistic form, Sari wears a gaudy red dress and is accompanied by a big Moon in the background; visually, it almost looks like a Japanese version of the awesome Björk, where an outside the box — and, for this reason, fascinating — artistic sense takes control of the stage.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Sari seems to be at ease with experimental electronic stuff, just like the Icelendic singer: “Kokyu” and “Mawaru” — created with Soejima Takuma — are two songs in which the emotional performance of the vocalist works with complex beats and unusual melodies; it’s a sound in which there are not many elements, but they are used to fill every available space.

On the other hand, “Kyusai” sounds very different: Kei Toriki offers a more introspective kind of music, some sort of dark and nocturnal post-rock; unlike the usual evolution of a song of this genre, there no crescendos or emotional bursts, leaving everything in the hands of the more quiet and reflective parts. Sparse rhythms and reverberating guitar notes dominate the scene and give way to Sari to use her voice and make the song more mysterious

Finally, I can’t really judge “Nissha”: the song doesn’t sound bad and in some way fits into the context, despite the retro-sounding pop-rock by ODoLow which may sound out of place at first glance; however, it’s like Sari hasn’t made this song her own yet and encounters some small troubles singing the emotionally strong chorus.

Nevertheless, it’s a great debut show for an artist that seems to have a lot to say through her art, especially now that she’s free from the way every group works and can express herself with no restraints and in her own way. It wil be interesting to see how Sari career will evolve; for now, we can just wait with our mouths watering.