It is not often you get interesting and eclectic indie music out of Japan from places other than Tokyo. Everything “culture” radiates from the never-ending metropolis and the hinterlands of Japan show incredible fealty to the musical tastes of the Capitol. Only very rarely, and often through freak accidents, do indie scenes develop with any vigor outside of Tokyo. But, the label Local Visions, from the western coastal city of Izumo (with a relatively tiny population of only around 170,000) is working to rewrite the narrative on electronic and technopop from the countryside of Japan. Their release iro iro Case.1 from the band Uiro is a unique collection of tracks that defy the homogenizing influence of Tokyo.
This EP opens unapologetically, bursting with seemingly random notes that build into a melody constructed by a multitude of synths. It is here that the unifying element of the EP is first laid down: the interplay between the complex drums and layered melodies. Between the drums and the synths are some seriously funky bass lines; sometimes presented as a classic slap or sometimes revealing themselves in HOME-like brown-note fuzzy goodness. Every song has an incredibly tight and complex backbeat that blends perfectly with the flowing lyrics. Most of the songs are in Japanese with occasional English verses that maybe don’t quite demonstrate full mastery of the English language. Luckily, the lyrics are available on the Bandcamp page and you can slap them into your favorite internet translator of choice to get the full meaning out of each song. But I really don’t listen to albums like this for what they’re trying to say. It’s all about the deep-down, gut reaction that you’re left with after the song is over.
The whole EP is great (and it’s short; only about 23 minutes long) but I really love “morning call” and “Neither”. “Morning call” has by far the best lyrics out of the whole thing and the production on the vocals is really creative, fun, and adds a lot to what’s being said. “Neither” is as funky as any “Japanese 80s City Pop Compilation” but without the cliche. It's got the bass, it's got the synths, and the English lyrics actually make sense (plus the effects on the lines ‘feeling like a’ are just superb). I think it’s the perfect end cap on this album.
As for the description “This food is fiction, and the product names, raw material names, manufacturers, etc. contained in it are all fictitious” I have no clue what it means. These things happen with Japanese indie artists and all we can do is smile and enjoy.
Uiro has really done something great with this EP and I can only hope that they don’t get sucked into the swirling vortex of Tokyo homogeny.
Jun 2020 // Local Visions