- 800 words -
This one was recommended to me a little over a month ago by a friend. I thought I’d end up giving this band a fleeting couple of listens, especially since the band’s music is in Japanese. While it’s a language I adore to no end, I simply can’t understand a word of it. Luckily their music makes up for that completely.
One thing that struck me about the band when initially checking them out on YouTube was their minimalism, pertaining to their mostly analogue arrangements and plain visual identity. Actually listening to the songs in more depth once having downloaded their first full-length LP entitled THE reveals that their music is anything but minimalistic.
I’m a drummer who regularly relies on common time signatures when playing music, as do most musicians and bands. If there’s one thing that differentiates tricot’s music from the rest of my library, it’s the crazy time signatures that they incorporate - hence their categorisation under “math rock”. It caught me off-guard at first, but with time, I realised that instead of cold and calculated as usually connoted with the genre, their music was the opposite: fun, peppy, and even captivatingly emotive.
Now on to the album. It’s far from a concept album, but the album still shows cohesion. The songs are very similar in feel and structure (or at least similar in their pursuit of deviating from normal song structures), but not to the point that the album sounds like it’s simply droning on. With that said, it’s consistently enjoyable and surprisingly listenable.
The album opens with a soft guitar instrumental called pool side amidst studio noises and sound checking, wherein tricot makes their analogue intentions clear (this continues in their next studio release, AND, in which most songs open with the tap of an effect pedal). It’s worth noting that while tricot’s music involves a lack of effects, this initial instrumental manages to create a sort of shoegaze atmosphere in spite of it.
Then in comes POOL, which alternates between the energetic choruses and quietly sung verses, a pattern that exists in other songs on the album. The drum beats also alternates - one moment hard rock, and samba in another. Keep in mind that this is just one song I’m describing, but the amazing thing is that the song still sounds singular. I’m not sure how they pull it off.
Next comes 飛べ (Tobe). The backing vocals during the choruses make the song somewhat distinctly Japanese. The break after the final verse really emphasises the band’s ability to pull back and incorporate dynamics, instead of mindlessly accumulating noise. Perhaps little details like this is why the album doesn’t get tiresome.
The choruses of おもてなし (Omotenashi) are unforgettable and have been etched onto my brain. Again, the backing vocals, which sound like a lullaby in an otherwise dynamic song, just does it for me completely.
artsick is my favourite on the album. A lot of what I said about the opening track pool side applies here: minimal effects yet an otherworldly atmosphere is conveyed. C&C, while a generally louder song, carries this on.
If there’s one track that actually sounds calculated, it’s おちゃんせんすぅす (Ochansensu-su). There’s a lack of the feathery emotion that blankets across the rest of the songs, but it still has a rightful place on the album.
The album’s climax perhaps occurs in the aptly named song 99.974°C, around the final chorus where the vocals soar and melody is transposed a step higher to emphasise that.
Sonically, the album settles down from this point on. Three softer (yet great) tracks later comes Swimmer, which could very well be the auditory manifestation of sleep. I find it odd that this isn’t the final track on the album. Instead, it’s おやすみ (Oyasumi), which probably has a better place in the middle of the album rather than the end.
Like last month’s album, this is one that’s easy to listen to over and over again without fail, at least if you’re willing to ignore the odd time signatures. Because the band doesn’t use much effects, the album as a whole is greater than the sum of its tracks, which is to say that the tracks alone are not particularly outstanding and I advise against listening to them apart from how they were meant to e.g. on shuffle. When listened to appropriately, however, THE makes for an amazing, holistic listening experience.
8 / 10
Tracks I play the most: First five songs, おちゃんせんすぅす (Ochansensu-su), 99.974°C
Tracks I play moderately: C&C, タラッタラッタ (Tarattaratta), 初耳 (Hatsumimi), CGPP, Swimmer
Tracks I usually skip: おやすみ (Oyasumi)