Thursday, September 01, 2005 On Usagi-chang Night

MissWonda live (image from Posted by Picasa

I would have gone to the Usagi-chang Night Fever!! show that described at length and entertainingly in a recent post, if it weren’t for the fact that I was separated from it by the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. When this show in Tokyo featuring the Aprils, YMCK, Hazel Nuts Chocolate, Eel and others took place, I was 5500 miles away, back home in Los Angeles. (Isn’t the Internet great? I looked the distance up in a website called How Far Is It.)

These so-called piko piko future pop bands have their share of true devotees, who are fond of telling you that groups like the Aprils are Japan’s New Thing. And indeed, the sound is fresh and interesting: beeping computer noises (“piko piko” is a Japanese word representing video game noises) creating nice pop melodies. Usagi-Chang ['little bunny'] Records is the label that is the creative headquarters of this new sound.

This is music by kids who love video games, and are young enough to have grown up in a world where the games were always around (whereas old fogies like me saw the coming of Pong, and witnessed the evolution that went from Space Invaders to Pac-Man to Donkey Kong and so on). Go to an Aprils show, and you find two computer screens on the stage that show a simultaneous music video of the song that the band is playing live, and the images of the video resemble those of a video game.

Piko piko is a Japanese invention, and it’s a fun little thing, like all the PlayStation and other Japanese game gadgets that give these kids inspiration. One thing I’m not sure of though, is whether any classic piko piko album, or even a song, has come out yet. Fun songs are one thing, but have bands in this musical genre produced a masterpiece that will make them noticed by many new listeners? I’m not sure they have, and that makes me continue to be a lukewarm fan, for the most part, of these artists.

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