SARI – Paraiso

Dreamy, psychedelic Sari: the alt-pop soloist continues her mystical, musical journey with her new single Paraiso.

SARI has had quite the interesting musical career, something definitely worth watching as she blossomed into a shining soloist, releasing singles, EPs and hosting live shows in her wake (with one just recently in Sweden!). Today’s single review will be documenting just that from her November 6th release, Paraiso.

The song opens with a mixture of trippy synth and SARI’s soft, pleasant vocal harmony. Her tone takes on a light and softer touch throughout the track, melding well with the blips of digitalization, piano and dream pop soundscapes. The feeling of the track reminds me a lot of Blank Banshee’s most recent album Gaia in a way, with the natural imagery of the single’s artwork and the chill vibe. The vocal layering is great as well, I feel like it really helps bring in the experimental direction of the song particularly in the chorus with the different lines coming together. There’s a brief section of guitar and a cool, snazzy bassline that comes in at the last minute of the song. It’s a pretty quick listen though, coming in at just short of 3 minutes (2:49 total). However, it’s pleasant nonetheless.

Since we’re only covering one single today, this review is brief, and I tried my best to really get in my thoughts on the track based on the notes I wrote. I’m hoping we get another EP, or better yet an album, from SARI soon. Her solo career has been one of my favorites when it comes to idols I like thanks to her unique sound and visuals. The next review, however, will be a pretty big one, so I’ll see you all then!

akugi – PLAYPLAY


akugi’s not PlayPlay-ing around: the codomomental trio dazzle and terrify on this debut EP titled PLAYPLAY with special guests.

Company collaborations are some of the coolest things, aren’t they? For example, WACK’s DOGENZAKA43, a play on the massively popular AKB48, that features every group in their roster; or their shuffle groups that contained members from different groups working together on an album. However, today we’re giving you something a little bit different, but well worth your interest.

akugi is a trio made up of one vocalist, marikoyu (Komari Yuu of KAQRIYOTERROR), and two dancers, Maruauma (Ama Mauru of Seireki13ya) and nainotokanon (Tokanai Nonno of TOKYO Tefutefu) with a focus on electronica. They made their debut in 2020 with the single r u serious? and followed up with Daydream Speaker in January of 2021. Their debut EP, Playplay, arrived on June 16th with six tracks — five with special guests consisting of fellow codomomental labelmates and one without — and it is absolutely killer.

The first track, “r u serious?”, featuring Yamakomaro of Yuu’s group KAQRIYOTERROR, hits you hard right at the jump with breakbeat-styled instrumentation fit for being on the Need For Speed soundtrack. Yuu’s rapper-like vocals carry through the verses with grace as she bounces from flow to flow against the dark, edgy beat, and the chorus from Yamakomaro melds smoothly right alongside it. The next track, “addict”, features Motochi Kasane of ZenbuKiminoseida., and is entirely in English. It opens with grainy feedback before introducing a simple piano number, soon to be washed over in electronic elements. Personally, the sound was incredibly nostalgic for me, as it reminded me of the arcade games I used to play. The lyrics, however, are incredibly dark, speaking from the perspective of one who knows someone with an unwillingness to carry on and feeling worried for them. Kasane takes over the choruses with her sweet voice, and Yuu carries in the verses, incorporating an icy whisper towards the end of her parts. After her parts come this intense wave of orchestration that really, really hits the nail on the head in producing an intense rush of anxiety.

Track three, “period”, which also features the Zenbukiminoseida. member Mei Yui Mei, packs a lovely surprise. The dreampop introduction gives way to soft, whispered vocals from Yuu, then flips between her rapping delivery and singing from Mei. At the 1:20 mark, though, the song makes a severe drop into a dark trap-inspired beat with the help of Yuu’s icy whispers. Her voice deepens and her delivery becomes less whimsical, with Mei’s almost deathcore-like screams providing back up. At 2:00 the trap beat mixes with elements of the dreamy pop we had beforehand as Yuu closes out the song once more. What a banger!

The fourth song, “CC”, kicks off with a synth beat that, for me, was reminiscent of post-punk. Yuu’s the only one providing vocals on this song and she gives out the full extent of her skills, including those characteristic whispers and rap delivery. The overall feel of the song is funky and dark, with her vocals providing just the right touch of sweetness and edge to get you moving. The mix of Japanese and English lyrics is also a great touch, something nearly every song on the EP has. Track five, “With U” is a short and sweet duet between Yuu and Uine Setsuna from TOKYO Tefutefu. Compared to the rest of the songs, it’s much softer, bringing back the dreamy atmosphere from before. It’s a sweet and sentimental song, briefly taking a turn when Yuu’s rap verse gets a little darker in sound, then brightening up once more as they sing. The ending is especially nice with Setsuna’s singing and Yuu’s rapping layered together.

The final song, “Daydream Speaker”, features Shiki Towa of Seireki13ya. It’s quite the melancholic track, with a slow and somber guitar opening as Shiki begins singing. Yuu’s verses are entirely spoken word, like someone recounting memories or reading from a diary — fitting considering the story of the song’s music video, where a girl tries to cope with the suicide of her friend but is unable to, and meets her in the end. Shiki’s soft and angelic adlibs in the verses provide a nice atmosphere, and she shows off her lower range very well in the song. Overall, it’s a gorgeous track and fits well as the closer for the EP. However, if you’re going to watch the music video, consider this as a bit of a heads up.

Playplay is a great display of the creativity these girls contain, as there really is something for everyone here. I cannot recommend it enough to anybody looking for a unique and fun project and I hope that we’ll be getting much more from akugi in the future!

代代代 (DaiDaiDai) – The Absurd Is The Essential Concept And The First Truth

代代代 (Dai Dai Dai)

Listen to DaiDaiDai’s new album The Absurd Is The Essential Concept And The First Truth, which brings us into a world of suspense, confusion and serenity.

November of last year held some great news for fans of solid chaos pop group 代代代 (DaiDaiDai): Hime Kanon would be returning to activities after undergoing surgery. Though the future started looking promising once more, we received news in April that Kanon will be graduating from the group on June 20th over concerns with her health and her studies. However, the five members promised to bring their brand new album, The Absurd Is The Essential Concept And The First Truth — titled after a quote by absurdist philosopher Albert Camus — on February 27th. It was fully released March 6th, 2021.

Now, prior to this I have had no exposure to DaiDaiDai. I’m a newbie to the idol underground but I’m willing to get my feet wet and venture deeper into the waters, so when Vladkorados sent me this to review I wasn’t quite sure what my expectations would be. Certainly a mouthful of an album (and quite the interesting title, might I add), but I was definitely not expecting the journey that it took me on.

Clocking in at only 25 minutes, the album has seven tracks. The first track, “Fuan” (“Anxiety”) starts off with bursts of electronic noises before introducing the members’ vocals with some really cool robotic effects layered in and random cuts of white noise. The song encapsulates the feeling of anxiety well in the bursts of sound and the uneasy nature of the vocals. Once the chorus hits, though, everything takes an overwhelming turn like you’re caught in a frightening chase. It ends with the bits of white noise increasing in frequency alongside an almost teasing chant, giving a very creepy feeling.

The next song is “Fumei” (“Uncertainty”), a very short and entirely instrumental track. I’d describe it like you’ve entered a heavenly realm within a video game, with shimmering sounds. When you listen to it you almost feel like you’re floating. After that is “EHM”, which opens with a rock intro and once again employs cool vocal layering and effects that make the girls sound distorted. The vibe of the song grows increasingly sinister, especially after the 1:15 mark, and once again explodes into walls of sound before the end. The last thirty seconds close the track out with some interesting ticking noises. The fourth song, “Piranha”, begins with eletronica before mixing with some guitar, sounding like something akin to a major boss fight in a game. At the two minute mark the energy of the song picks up into an almost breakcore styled beat alongside a shouted chorus from multiple members.

Whereas the previous tracks had very amped up energies about them, the next two tracks stand out in their more mellowed out, emotional feeling. Track five, “Shinigami” (“God of Death”, which got a lyric video that you can watch above), opens with an orchestra alongside dreamy synths. There’s no vocal effects in this song, giving you a chance to hear the voices of the girls loud and clear. The feeling of this song is exhilarating, like you’re running, and the catchiness makes you want to sing along. The rock elements in the second half of the song are short lived but create a nice open atmosphere before you’re colliding with the dreamlike orchestra.

It’s one of the standout songs on the album for sure, as is the next track, “Yuukai” (“Melting”). Coming in as the longest on the album at five minutes, it opens with a math rock-esque sound. It employs a similar dreamy effect as the last song, but in a way where you really do feel like you’re melting into it all. There’s a hypnotizing quality to the song, especially in the parts where DaiDaiDai‘s members are all reciting the same lines one by one. Shiho’s voice shines in her solo portion of the bridge; there’s such a power in her voice there, it grabs at your emotions a little bit (it certainly did for me at least). The song got a music video featuring the song’s choreography earlier this year.

The final song, “Seiketsu” (“Cleanliness”) quite literally creeps up on you with electrical noises that gradually get a bit louder, but when the song officially starts it comes when you least expect it. The MIDI instruments give it an old horror game feeling and the unsettling vocal effects accentuate it perfectly. The song ends with noises that sound like something being dragged, and quite literally so as, if you listen with headphones, the sound slowly travels from your left ear to your right.

Prior to this, I had no knowledge of DaiDaiDai or what their genre, chaos pop, could consist of. After giving this album I can gladly say that I’ll definitely be checking out more of their discography, as this was one of the coolest albums I’ve heard in a while. Consider me a fan!

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