Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Faceless Soutaiseiriron

Soutaiseiriron, which means 'Theory of Relativity', is, in theory, a relatively promising band. But there's also something very weird about these guys.

They seem to be refusing to reveal anything at all about themselves. There are almost no pictures of this quartet anywhere (well... more on that in a second). In fact, they make it clear they want their image hidden—on every page of their website is a note saying that photographing at their concerts is prohibited. That's normal at major-label band gigs, but I've never seen a band being quite so adamant about it on a website. The bio on their site is sketchy, giving only a brief run-down of their 2 ½ year career. And the CD Hi-Fi Anatomia doesn't supply any more info either. Also, they don't do interviews.

In other words, you can't get any information about this band other than from their music. It's like they want to be the Thomas Pynchon or Salinger of J-pop. But is that even possible? Can a rock band succeed without publicizing their image or personalities at all?

I have no idea what's behind this secrecy. Do they just not like to be in the public gaze? Or are there personal reasons why they can't be seen? I hope it's not some sort of marketing gimmick worked out with their managers, because that would be eminently lame.

The thing is, they do perform live once in a while, so they aren't keeping themselves completely invisible. I read, though, that the female singer stands motionless on stage during the whole show, and only moves to bend down to get her bottle of water. Phew...glad I found that out in advance, otherwise I might've ended up suffering through a 'performance'...

All of this is strange because Soutaiseiriron's music IS good, a lot of people I know are getting into them, and being more forthcoming about their persona would seem to be a beneficial thing at this point in their career. Indeed, Hi-Fi Anatomia, their first album, is filled with catchy, if ordinary-sounding pop tunes, but two things help them stand out: the female singer's vocal style and their whacky lyrics.

A Japanese commentator I read put it well when he described the singing style as 'low blood pressure J-pop'—for the most part the vocalist sounds laid-back, like she's not trying too hard, but at the same time it's a strangely coquettish voice, quietly emotional and pleasantly musical.

And then there are the lyrics—it's like various types of otaku splashed their fantasies and daydreams against the music sheets. “Jigoku Sensei” is a Japanese schoolgirl (Nabokov's) Lolita story in pop song format; “Fushigi Descartes” has to do with supernatural phenomena, with the main line saying, “Even if you're a ghost that's OK with me/ If you're a ghost that would be even better/ If I were a ghost wouldn't that be OK with you?”; the song “Shikaku Kakumei (Square Revolution)” describes a guy from the 25th century running away from the Time-Space Police and meeting a girl from the 22nd century; “Renaissance” is about, um, mathematics.

It all makes me want to know more about these guys. Now, they're faceless.

What's strange is that the only one photo I found of this band is in the English part of the internet, and while a google image search does turn up links to a few Japanese sites, when you try to open those images they're all removed. Does that mean the web-masters were asked to take them down? I'm curious what will happen if I publish that one known picture of them on this site, and so I've borrowed that photo from another web page, and will let you know if there's any response...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Nice blog