The Takarazuka Revue (宝塚歌劇団 Takarazuka Kagekidan) is a Japanese all-female musical theater in the city of Takarazuka, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. Women play both male and female roles in lavish, Broadway-style productions — most of their plays are Western-style musicals, and sometimes they are stories adapted from shōjomanga and folktales of China and Japan.
Their previous performances include adaptations of Wuthering Heights, For Whom the Bell Tolls, War and Peace, and JFK.
There’s a part of me that thinks this is the best ever. There’s another part of me that wonders what a Phish record soaked in corn syrup would sound like played at 45rpm. Tonight, with the aid of whiskey and sleeplessness, I am actively choosing to sidestep the binary categorization that dominates the Western thought process.
I finally beat Megaman 9, and I thought I’d celebrate by sharing the amazing boxart and packaging that only press release copies of the game came with.
Yeah, not only is that an actual NES game box with the hilarious homage to Megaman 1’s cover (the lines on the top read “ultrasound graphics synthesis” and “8-bit fidelity engine”), but the game CD came in a NES cartridge shaped case! I don’t normally get excited about this sort of thing–but seriously this has got to be one of the coolest package designs ever for ANYTHING. Lucky, lucky game reviewers is all I have to say.
Okay, so maybe your earholes have already picked up on a few of these by now, but for the most part these songs are sitting in rarities boxsets, found 45s, or just weird tracks lost in time, patiently waiting for some virgin ears to stroll by and annihilate everything you thought you already knew about your favorite music – Enjoy!
“Save My Soul” by Wimple Winch
“Lions” by Tones on Tail
Whispering Winds by Ray Scott
“Under Mi Sleng Teng” by King Jammy
“Unless You’ll Find Out” by The Good Luck Charms
“Sugar Man” by Rodriquez
“I Have Known Love” by Silver Apples
“Just Ain’t Me” by Tommy Guerrero
“Combination of the Two” by Yuya Ichida & The Flowers
Remember the last post? I mentioned that this band(see above) did not play live shows let alone tour. Well, apparently they birthed an entity known as LD-Section II, where touring is a must. In fact, that is all they do. To my knowledge, neither Diego nor Jorge (the theorized actual singers of the band) participated in the live performances. That’s besides the point though, because this article is about their second album, The Dividing Island. Before we can actually begin, witness this promotional video for the song “A Line You Can Cross.” After you imbibe the video, you will then be ready to experience the rest of this meticulous investigation.
This is the first “single” off of the album, and it was a great choice. What makes this a great choice? Just carry on throughout your day and take notice to that fact that you are humming its melody and soon you will be whistling it. Before you know it , when no one is looking, you pretend you’re one of the lead singers that ironically resemble Milli Vanilli. As long as no body is around, have fun; ride it out. However, if the clown appears and starts instructing you to mimic shapes, then you should probably be concerned, because you might be actually be suffering from some form of dementia. In other words: this song is pretty good, but is not worth the hallucinating the presence of a monochromatic clown (seen below).
"Mimic the shapes!"
Their second album, The Diving Island, adheres to the “concept album” rubric more closely. Their songs all seem to represent divisions, lines, dichotomies, the notion of singularity (one), dualities (two), and pretty much anything pertaining to an island that happens to be divided. The lyrics are dressed in as much or more obscurity than its predecessor. Also, like its predecessor it employs the style/genre shifts. One could argue that the shifts on this album are more erratic, but that’s not the path that this article is going to take. Instead, as a break from the colloquial approach to music criticism, I am going review this album track by track.
1. “Diving Island” An appropriate name for the first track, but it does not completely set the tone for the album. In fact, this track stands alone, as it is the only allusion to this variant of the late 60’s classic rock style. Even in the first moments of the song, it deceives the viewer, as it somber tom-heavy post-punk intro progresses. Then, you are hit with the tube-driven guitars, which change the streams into heavy, albeit beautifully sung, rock opus.
2. “Cement to Stone” This song is where the album picks up. When I heard the slightly off-kilter guitar melodies, I was immediately mesmerized. This melody is then further complimented by the occasional pitch bending of the keyboards. This song is truly psychedelic without being completely retro. Note the use of “completely,” because there is evidence to support the instance of psychedelic nostalgia in this track; however, the final product of the song diverts from the common psychedelic approach. The diversion can be noted in the production of the vocals and the incorporation of keyboard textures not present during the psychedelic heyday of the 60’s and 70’s
3. “A Line You Can Cross” This song is one of the several standout tracks on the album. The infectious keyboard hooks and the calypso-inspired dance break-downs deliver an unstoppable music force. This song also reveals the existence of two singers, unless, the singer can vary his or her voice effortlessly from high to low. When the deep voice starts, it is synonymous to David Bowie’s deep croon found on tracks like “China Girl”, etc. Then the singing switches from the low into a high anthemic chorus. The switching of the singers strengthen to the album’s concept, as they represent a divide or dichotomy from each other. Are they agree or disagreeing? as the name of the album indicates, they are in conflict with one another. Hopefully, they will resolve their differences before they tour, or they could hire people to tour as them. But who would want to do a thing like that?
4. “One for All” This track can be defined by one word: smooth. Words alone,however, can only do so much to describe this song, so listen and experience the smoothness for yourself.
5. “Two Extremes” This track is beautiful and is sequentially arranged in the album almost perfectly, as it calms down the listener (provided that they listen to every song in order). An associate of mine used this song to score the ice cave scene in one of his travelogues, which is a perfect metaphor for the track. The ice cave in its ethereal splendor embodies the wispy, airy mood of this song. Also, it is indicative of an early 80’s synth pop influence, which is the most used motif of the band. There similarity between this song and the early work of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark. The heartbeat-esque drum pulse and the several synth layers resemble music from the early half of O.M.D’s compendium.
6. “Part of the Promise” This track takes the album to another level. It employs a truly schizophrenic approach to song writing. The best part about this instance is that it is able to sound schizophrenic without sounding haphazard or spastic. Another bridge that this song crosses is the bridge, which elaborately links synth-pop in to pure rock & roll. The keyboards sound as if they are coming out of an amp that stands lonely in an abandoned factory, which blend well into the several guitars layers throughout the song. The skittering beat facilitates this bridge, as it also allows for the ghostly keyboard melody to appropriately compliment the crunchy guitars. The guitars are another topic of conversation. It seems as if the guitarist could not decide on which effect to use, so he used all of them. The complete product is unlike anything else, and as you would imagine their vocals, as always, finalize the package, thus rendering the song an entity that uniquely corresponds to Lansing-Dreiden.
7. “Our Next Breath” This song dips into another variant of the classic rock genre. There is one peculiarity that jumps out from this song, which is the time signature. Specifically, the time signature as it relates to melodically chopping guitar riffs. Also, the dynamics of the song (the balance between loud and quiet) are handled in way that sets this song apart from its classic-rock influences. It almost seems as if the drummer is quickly switching to soft mallets effortlessly whilst the guitarist plays either plays softly or loudly corresponding directly to the drummer’s dynamic. It is an interesting take on a classic-rock genre.
8. “Our Hour” This song seems as if it actually came from the 80’s almost as if this was contemporaneous with the songs of Simple Minds, The Associates, and the likes of those. The bass line and the broodingly deep vocals are things to pay attention to in this track.
9. “Symbol of Symmetry” This is a transition track between the surround songs, which deceives the listener of what’s to come…
10. “Dethroning the Optimyth” How anyone could write this song is beyond words. In fact, it can be classified as crazy. It seems to unite 80’s bell synths with Metal-riffage. Black Metal groups have been mixing keyboards for years, but the chaos that ensues in this song is at times indescribable. Why don’t you listen for yourselves!
And now I leave, stumped in a fantasy metal stupor… (to be continued)!
For better or for worse, There isn’t really anything remarkable about the “story” of a one hit wonder. If anything, this hit and more specifically, this video is worth it’s weight in Gold. The funny thing is that they did not even write this song. I don’t speak Italian, so when I saw the video, the lack-of-context amplified every single peculiarity. Before reading the rest of this post, watch the video
First of all, why are they in a bathroom? The song translates into “let’s go to the Beach” but there is no beach in sight or any indication that they plan on going to the beach anytime soon. Judging by the futuristic watches, it seems as if they are spies and they choose to communicate in the anonymous confines of the wash room. Suppose they were spies, whatever allegiances they have to whatever organizations they belong to are secondary to their obligation to fashion. Look at the shoes and the pleated pants. The haircuts only add to the theory that they might very well be secret agents working for the Fashion Police. Since they are Italian, they may very well be secret agents gaurding the sacred, gilded crown of Donatella Versace, which due to its color is instiguishable from the rest of her body. Lastly, it’s important to notice the dance moves or rather the dance move employed by the duo. It’s one that I use, but I mix it up a little more. They repeatingly beat this dance to death, and if you were so venturous to see more of their videos, you notice that this dance is all that is in their coreogrphical bag of tricks. To their credit, they do it well and the occasional pauses to speak into the communicator break up the monotony. Why do I even bother watching this artifact from ages past? because the song is f*cking awesome. It’s a piece of 80’s synth pop heaven. The italo-disco feel of the track pieces this gem together leaving no question as to why this song is a hit, and as a treat I leave you with the song (just push the play button dummy!)