Tokumaru is a musical Philosopher's Stone; he transmutes even chickens into gold.
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.