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!