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Shugo Tokumaru

L.S.T.

(Active Suspension; US: 27 Jun 2006; UK: 27 Jun 2006)

L.S.T. follows Tokyo-based Shugo Tokumaru’s 2004 album Night Piece. I’ve only heard a little of Night Piece but it sounds to me as if he’s grown even more daring in the interval. This is pop, but pop pushed into a non-mainstream place of such diversity and experimentation that it’s barely recognisable. You have one track that features a whistle, a piano, and a singing saw; another that gets underway with the sound of scissors and peeping baby chickens and goes on to showcase a koto; and a third like a musical joke that seems to be about to dump us in the trane trekker boredom that is enka until the singer opens her mouth—and lo and behold, it’s the singing saw again. “Mist” has a decorative, finicky playfulness. “Yukinohaka” arches itself into a smeary prog crescendo, while “5 A.M.” showers us with spangles of Christmassy beauty, as if you’ve been invited inside a snowglobe, or, more aptly, inside the acme of Japanese department stores in early December when everyone is laying out exquisite toy angels for entirely non-Christian reasons of their own invention. (“Angels,” a Japanese man explained to me once, “are like pretty fairies.”) It’s an astonishing, radiant performance. Tokumaru is a musical Philosopher’s Stone; he transmutes even chickens into gold.

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Tagged as: shugo tokumaru
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