Top 10 Albums of the Year: #9

Shugo Tokumaru - Exit (P-Vine)
Shugo Tokumaru does a fantastic job of creating music that is expansive and filmic while also retaining a definite sense of the smallness of the individual (if that makes sense). This was the case with his last album, L.S.T., and remains the case with Exit. With Exit, Tokumaru further refines the elements that made L.S.T. the joy that it is and condenses his compositions into compact acousti-pop wonders. "Parachute" launches the album like a rocket with sprightly guitar and glockenspiel parts ricocheting off of each other in perfect time as light drums help to keep things together. Tokumaru's singing is, not surprisingly, all in Japanese, but it doesn't really matter. His repetitions of "par-shoo" throughout the song and the final "ah-ah-ah!" that pulls the song into its final instrumental breakdown communicates things just fine. This song is actually very simple (guitar, glock, drums and voice is really all there is to it), but Tokumaru's remarkable musicianship (and probably some multitracking) make this song sound ten feet tall (if something can sound ten feet tall).
"Green Rain" and "Clocca" both feature memorable melodica melodies (or at least that's what it sounds like). "Future Umbrella" and "D.P.O." make for punchy, bright interludes, the latter of the two sounding kind of a like a giddily drunken romp through a toy store. "Sanganichi" and "Hidamari" are some of the mellower, gentler tracks on the album. They sort of clean the listener's head after the more harried instrumentation of some of the other songs. "Wedding" closes the album in style: a gorgeous banjo piece that has just the right amount of twang. If you get the image in your mind, it really does somehow sound like a wedding. Really. Picture it in your mindbrain.
And the songs I didn't mention are all lovely as well. From start to finish Exit has both obvious polish and craft imbued in each song as well as the sort of genuine heart and warmth that one does not often come across in contemporary musics. It is the big full soundtrack to the invisible movie you didn't know you always wanted to see.

No comments: