Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thank You, Risette

Things I love about Japanese indie music:

* That after all these years, I still sometimes discover brilliant bands like Risette. They formed in 1995, influenced by Swedish pop and 'neo-acoustic' (a genre Japanese fans invented to cover bands like Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout and the Pale Fountains). Twin lead guitars dazzle with their electric conversations, while washing over them are the inimitable, unmistakable vocals of Yu Tokiwa, girlish yet adult, fragile yet strong, crystalline.

* That even though their popularity climbed fast in the late-90's, they took their time to release their first album, your own sweet way, which didn't come out until 2001. And then after another album and anime songs, they faded away for a few years before coming out with a third album called Risette.

* That Risette is a great album, but their old fans, my friends, who have been following the Japanese indie pop scene longer than me, still insist that the older works are superior. And, indeed, some fanatics are so desperate to own the early, out-of-print albums that, at one point, your own sweet way was selling used for about $150 to $250!

* That the band members, seeing this, felt happy about the enthusiasm for their music but bad about the exorbitant price tags, and decided to work to re-issue the songs in a new album, called it their 'Risette Re-issue Project', and tweeted about it.

I read through them. The one at the start of their project said, “The current situation: 1. the record label is gone; 2. it's not clear where the master recording is; 3. we can't get in touch with the record label president, who we think has the master recording.”

Eventually, the president is reached, the master recording materializes, the songs are remixed, a business plan for the new albums is written up, and two albums come into being—Compact Snap, featuring the old hits, and Extras, highlighting rare tracks.

Thank you, Risette, for bringing this music back. Songs like “whitehouse”, “Nagisa”, “hardcore” and “leaf scattering” are beautiful. They are their own unique room in the big apartment building of music.

Another tweet: “We were worried about what we would do if we only sold about 30 copies, but we're breathing a sigh of relief because the pre-orders have been more than expected. If we make money it will certainly go toward (our new music). So, from today, we will start getting working on the material (laugh).”

I'm waiting for their new songs. And for some more shows. Here's a taste of them live, though, as usual, it's inadequate compared with the real thing.

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