Thursday, June 05, 2008

Risette & Advantage Lucy At Red Cloth

My interest in a band called Risette shot up when advantage Lucy's Aiko, performing before them, said Risette's vocalist was her favorite Japanese female singer, and she sometimes wished she could replace her vocal cords like a cartridge and stick in the Risette vocalist's instead.

Having listened to Risette for the first time, I'd say that the Risette Vocalist cartridge was one that produced a sound that was soft, and a strange blend of high and husky voices. The vocalist sings like she's constantly pleasantly surprised by the voice that just came out of her throat. You could see how another singer might want to activate it the way a guitarist steps on an effect pedal.

The vocalist, Yu Tokiwa, stood mostly still during songs, switching between staring straight ahead and looking down at something a couple of steps away from her left foot. But she seemed to be able to express a lot just with the swing of her chin and the shift of her gaze. Risette also featured two skilled guitarists who built on each others' solos (I was reminded of Television), an interesting counterpoint to Tokiwa's laid-back singing style. I enjoyed the show and could see how this band might inspire, as I heard, a manic Japanese indie music fan from Taiwan to make the band name his alias, because he loves them so much.

Risette was playing at the Red Cloth at a show to celebrate the release of their new album, Risette. They've been around for more than a decade, and I heard that some of their earlier, out-of-print albums are quoted at exorbitant prices on Japanese auction sites.


Advantage Lucy, playing before Risette, appeared as a duo—just Aiko and Yoshiharu Ishizaka. That was the first time I'd seen only the two of them, the core of the great band, performing live, and the gig was beautiful in an intense, lonely, nervous way. Ishizaka said the show made them feel naked, with nothing to hide the sound of voice and a solo guitar, but it distilled the essence of advantage Lucy, which, to me, is a band that has always exposed itself through music, its emotions and passions, even though it's at the same time such a deliciously pleasant pop group.

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