Ah, the releases I should have had on my year end list begin to pile up, Hiiragi Fukuda’s being the most egregious omission so far. This just goes to show year end lists made in December of said year are awesome for driving up the site hits, Facebook shares and retweets, but always end up being shortsighted. I guess I’m trying to say, don’t think too hard about it or assume it matters. Anyway, how to describe this tape? I have never heard (or even heard of before now) Hiiragi’s work in (Holy Mountain recording artist) Doronco Gumo, or his first solo work (with ex-members of Japanese legends Les Rallizes Denudes and Maher Shalal Hash Baz), so I don’t have much to base it against in terms of his past work. Psychedelic folk-pop seems to be a good way to put it, but it often incorporates more than that.
Hiiragi doesn’t sing as much as he talks, and when he talks it’s in Japanese and has a sort of detached, Serge Gainsbourg quality. Indeed, a lot of the songs on this collection have that sort of French New Wave/existential feel, not so much interested in the story as much as just “being”, often in a mode of self-conscious coolness. Well, it works. The good part is that the lazily strummed acoustic guitars, repetitive riffs and beatnik rhythms almost always give way to Hiiragi’s sumptuous electric guitar, a reverb soaked laser with a real direction in mind. The album reflects the songs, with some country fried romps in between the longer, more sublime bookends.
This is a great tape, even more so because it’s not typically the kind of music that gets released on cassette. The song writing is for real and the knack for “pop” and melody is undeniable. It also avoids any kind of “it sound” of the moment and presents the listener with familiar territory while doing so in a very original way, but oh man, when Hiigati’s beautiful guitar starts a full space blast off, you start to wonder where this guy came from and why you never heard him before (unless you did, in which case, kudos).
Tape's sold out. Download link.