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! ^^


Eric said...

I thought that industrial pop song you mentionned:
尖った手口」 (Togatta Teguchi / "Sharp Trick")

reminded me most of Shouso Strip track 2: "yokushitsu"

Similar style of music! Cool songs :) And nice review.

Brother Wormgear said...

Thanks for visiting Eric! Yes, come to think of it, the two songs do have a similar sounds, don't they? I'm glad you pointed that out! Thanks for your kind words, please do stop by again!

Seba Rashii said...

Sanmon Gossip is indeed a good album, even if it is one of those albums you seem to love or hate on the Ringo forums. The haters though, are disappearing.

And Tokyo Jihen's new single and album are with us soon! Hoo-ray!

Keep listening, Seba.

Brother Wormgear said...

NEW Tokyo Jihen!? Wuaaa!! That's wonderful! I didn't know about it so thank you for sharing Seba!

Luna said...

Nice review!
I hear that official english name for 'sanmon gossip' is 'superficial gossip'

Can't wait for Tokyo Jihen! Yay!

Brother Wormgear said...

Thanks for your comment, Luna, I'm glad you came to visit! I agree that "Superficial Gossip" is a better translation since "three penny-" in English suggests something "cheap" or "inexpensive" instead of something "superficial" or "unsubstantial." Thank you. I am looking forward to the new Tokyo Jihen, too!