Perfume - ⊿ (トライアングル / "Triangle")

Dear readers, before getting started, I should apologise for taking so long to post my review of this great music since I feel it deserves more recognition that this!

On 07-Aug-09 Perfume released their latest full-length CD called ⊿ (トライアングル / "Triangle"). What we have here is another collection of skillfully-produced dance-trance-talkbox-pop tracks that is sure to please fans and new-comers alike. Perfume has already made a huge impact on the music scene has once again has proven their ability to keep it going with their latest offering.

Listening to this CD straight through, from start to finish, I wouldn't necessarily claim that this is their best full-length, but it certainly does NOT disappoint. ⊿ has some absolute gems on it that provide evidence of Perfume's ability to grow and evolve despite their dedication to a music genre that's become over-saturated and watered-down over most of the past 2 decades. While I have been a fan of the group for several years now, I am still impressed by their ability to maintain a consistent and comfortingly-reliable sound while still managing to incorporate freshness into their productions. のっち (Nocchi), かしゆか (Kashiyuka) and あ〜ちゃん (A~chan) have continued to mature as singers and artists, and it shows!

⊿ contains a dozen tracks including the title track from Perfume's recent hit single, "Love the World," and a "⊿-mix" of the track "edge" from the same single. The mega-hit single, 「ワンルーム・ディスコ」 ("One-room Disco") is also on this release. Some of the new songs on the disc such as "NIGHT FLIGHT" and "I still love U" have a distinctly retro sound which definitely adds some charm to this release. Others are more akin to Perfume's classic style and they just make you feel good! The CD comes to a close with an "Album Mix" of the lovely ballad, 「願い」 (Negai / "Wish").

If you're skilled music hunter, there may still be a few of the limited edition CD+DVD sets available somewhere. The DVD contains some great material including Live performances of tracks from ⊿ and some of their musical appearances on TV. Great stuff! The headline photo of this post shows the cover art from the limited edition, while the other pic is the cover of the CD-only release. The limited edition contains both versions of the cover art, so if you prefer looking at the cute group-members, you can always flip it over.

All in all, ⊿ is another great success for this Jpop trio from Hiroshima. It's hard to go wrong with Perfume, and if you like this kind of music and enjoy their sound, you will be very happy with it! If you haven't yet discovered Perfume, however, I think I would honestly recommend "Game" as an ideal introduction to their sound. Please don't interpret this to mean that I dislike ⊿ in any way because that certainly would not be the case, but I do feel that overall, "Game" is better as a complete package. Enjoy!


Shiina Ringo - Sanmon Gossip

Hello Monologues of an Otaku readers! I hope you'll forgive my recent silence. I've been incredibly busy with so many different things, especially my recently-intensified study of Japanese language. As a result, I'm pretty far behind on all the posts I've been wanting to write for you.

It would be a shame to put this one off much longer-- my review of the new full length from 椎名林檎 (Shiina Ringo) called 「三文ゴシップ」 (Sanmon Gossip). First let's talk about the title. 「三」means "three" of course, and 「文」is an old skool unit of Japanese currency equal to 1/1000 of a 貫 ("kan"). This comes from a historical period when money was measured in weight, which makes sense since "kan" also refers to an old unit of weight measurement equal to about 3.75 grams. You can see some money like this in old Samurai movies and on images of 招き猫 (Maneki Neko / "Lucky Cat"). SO, "Sanmon Gossip," loosely-translated into English, might be "3-penny Gossip."

Moving on to the topic I really want to discuss, the music! What can I say? This CD is SO AWESOME! Shiina Ringo seems to have an endless well of creativity, skill and musicianship within that mind of hers and once again I am really impressed. With no recent offerings from her other well-known project, 東京事変 (Tokyo Jihen / "The Tokyo Incidents"), Ringo-chan seems to have combined the two projects into a single effort instead, focusing the best of both into a fantastic solo project. This, combined with her standard, extremely-high production value, makes this an incredible CD! All this, and I haven't even mentioned Shiina Ringo's trademark style of Japanese word-play-creation that makes all of her song titles so kool and interesting!

In Shiina Ringo's 三文ゴシップ (Sanmon Gossip), she starts off by giving us a healthy dose of Tokyo Jihen-style J-Rock as well as a bit more of the sweet-sophistication J-Pop that she delivered to us in her previous full-length release, 「私と放電」(Watashi to Hoden / "Me and electric discharge"). From there she continues to explore her exemplary talent as a Jazz musician, once again combining her exciting and unique J-Rock style with the sounds of Rat-Pack-style Big Band, Swing and this time even Cha-Cha in the song, 「二人ぼっち時間」(Futari Bocchi Jikan / "Time for Two People Alone")! It's an endeavour that seemingly only Ringo-chan is able to accomplish with success while accurately capturing each of these different styles of jazz and at the same time managing to both stay true to her own distinctive style and maintain accessibility by a wide range of music-lovers.

Just when listeners start to think that this release has come to be strictly about Jazz, however, Shiina Ringo takes us in a new direction about 2/3 of the way through the disc! The track 「尖った手口」 (Togatta Teguchi / "Sharp Trick") can best be described as "industrial pop" which as far as I know has not yet been identified as a music genre. This is just further testament to her skill as an innovator.

Perhaps this sounds like it might be a bit of a shock for those of us who enjoy listening to her full-length releases all the way through from start to finish? Surprisingly, No! In fact, I think she planned this little diversion perfectly, doing her best to (quite successfully) make this CD really compelling. In the next couple of tracks, 「色恋沙汰」(Irokoizata / "Love Affair") and「凡才肌」(Bonsai Hada / "Mediocre-like"), Ringo-chan takes us on yet another diversion in which she explores music that starts to enter the territory of the broadway musical, incorporating many unique band instruments and even an accordion.

To finish the release Shiina Ringo, returns to her roots, filling our ears with the J-Rock/Pop sounds that caused all of us to fall in love with her in the first place. The final track, in fact, has all the feeling of that last encore that musicians play at their concerts, coming back out onto the stage one last time just to make the fans happy. For this "encore" she chose to do a totally KOOL vocally-harmonised A cappella version of her all-time favourite, 「丸の内サディスティック」 (Marunouchi Sadistic) that she calls the "EXPO Version."

三文ゴシップ (Sanmon Gossip) is a welcomed addition my CD collection which is sure to get lots and lots of play-time because of its variety and ingenuity. If you haven't yet gotten into Ringo-chan's music, do yourself a favour and treat yourself to this great music. You really won't be sorry; I promise! ^^