REBECCA - ヴァージニティー (Virginity) (1984)

Song: ヴァージニティー (Virginity)


This track was a random surprise that I had to make a video for. There is something about early 80s J-pop that is fascinating. There was certainly a lot more western influence in the types of instrumentation, and the song structures. On paper, you could compare this song to something similar to US rock group Heart. But in practice, everything about it seems to have an entirely different "translation", which really gives it a mysterious and intriguing quality, at least to my ears.

Specifically, I think it is the execution of the song. All the instruments and song structures are there, but it's clearly as if one specific genre is being interpreted through a different culture, in a way that highlights the differences in an ultra pleasant way. They are using all the same tools for the same means, they are just doing it in ways that were quite uncommon in the west.

One prime example is when the chorus of this song first plays (at 1:02). This is a very "American" style chorus, with very American style powerful female vocals. But the execution of it just sounds, different. The emphasis on these vocals or something, it's both familiar, but unexpected. It's hard to explain beyond that. But, I had to make a video for it and put it on youtube regardless. Check it out. Expand your miiiiiind.

Future World Orchestra - Mission Completed (1982)

Album: Future World Orchestra - Future World Orchestra (1982)
Song: Mission Completed

This is a very subtle kind of anomaly track. Usually there is some extreme quality in the songs I post that makes a tracks stand out. In this case, I guess that can be this album cover, hehe. Such a simple technique having the lights behind their eyes, and yet I can not look at this picture without just feeling good. That's when you start to notice their are wearing corduroy Mortal Kombat ninja outfits, and have huge mustaches. That's about as extreme as this song gets. But I suspect that it's mostly by design.

The song itself is chalk full of slow synth pads that are constantly making use of a gorgeous resonant cutoff filter. Underneath is a simple but surprisingly warm synth bass. The vocals are very flat with a chorused effect on them throughout, but in a cool futuristic mission control kind of way. Then throw in a couple fragile and floating synth solos toward the end, which have this hint of tragedy to them. They are happy, but also they feel distant, or nostalgic perhaps. Maybe the future is not as good as it seems?

Overall, there is a seeming robotic lack of emotion in this song. Almost something you would expect from our robot faring "future world orchestra". Even though it is loaded with ironic synths by today's standards, it still comes off as a somewhat tragic track to me. As if they are happy, but they don't really want to be? Just look at their facial expression on the album cover and think about it.

Mission Completed... But at what cost?

Just because it continues to baffle me, here is some live footage. I am like a deer in headlights watching this. Liking something seriously, and ironically can sometimes make your head spin.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Nel Cielo E Nelle Altre Cose Mutue (1978)

Album: Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - ... Di Terra (1978)
Song: Nel Cielo E Nelle Altre Cose Mutue

Every time we have a heavy snowfall (which is not often in the North West). I have this song loaded up and ready to go on my mp3 player. For some context, the first time I had ever driven in heavy snow, this song was playing, and perfectly captured my sense of danger and cautious wonderment. This was the kind of snow that was so so deep that everything just looked white. No road was visible, and all the cars were going under 20 km/h. Even at those speeds, any sudden acceleration and you were seeing cars spinning left and right.

This song starts out quite ominous and even scary sounding. It perfectly captured my apprehension having initially slid as soon as I pressed on the gas. But in no time, these wood winds and this brass open up so warmly it almost tells the story of the sun rising over my dark snowy town. It went from dark blue to light blue to white all during the course of this one song. At least, that's what it felt like. As the timpani start to swell my confidence continued to amplify, until I could only feel the sense the joy in the action of driving in crazy snow. I am sure I had a big ol' smile on my face. Other drivers must have thought I was nuts.

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso is one of the most prominent Italian prog bands, with an absolutely massive library of great albums. These guys were the top of the heap. With a library that large, this became another good example of a file I had to copy in to the Anomaly folder, for fear of forgetting it. Even to this day I can not tell you the name of this song even though I am looking right at it. No, the only way to remember this song was to put it in the Anomaly folder, and here I am, probably 9 years later, still enjoying the majesty of this song. I could have picked a better song of theirs to first expose people to them, but this song and I shared an experience that I thought would perhaps be fun to read. Enjoy!

Deftones - Bored (1995)

Album: Deftones - Adrenaline (1995)
Song: Bored

How good was this album... It was 1995, and the grunge philosophy was stagnating due to over commercialization. Conflicting emotions meant caring and not caring, or looking like you care, and looking like you don't care, were all weighing heavily on the young adults of the time. I was too young to even have an opinion when this album was released, but looking back on it now, hearing the actual emotion in the vocals, the lyrics, and the physical playing and performance, I get the sense that this album was a true boiling point caused by social indifference and pretension.

It's almost like having to practice social nihilism and not actually being happy about it. When you read the lyrics, and you hear how many times they specifically reference being bored or not being what is expected. The title of this track for example is flat out, "Bored". I just get such a strong sense of purpose and real emotion behind this album, and this song perfectly embodies it all. As a result, I think it feels really transcendental. The music itself is immensely creative. From the use of super compressed vocals going from whispers to screams, to the completely bizarre production style, to the the extremely uncommon play style and patterns of the drummer. This seems like a result of kids that aren't happy not being themselves (welcome to the commercialization of grunge), who went to great lengths to actually BE themselves.

This song kind of serves as an anthem to me. If you truly want something to exist, you have to create it. The hard part is knowing what you truly want, or what your surroundings dictate you should want.

Mari Hamada - Noah (ノア) (1983)

Album: Mari Hamada - LUNATIC DOLL (1983)
Song: Noah (ノア)

Here is a 1983 heavy metal (borderline thrash) song from a Japanese female singer called Mari Hamada. This song continues to blow me away.

1983, mind you. The production is unbelievably crisp and clear, which really allows you to fully appreciate the off the wall energy of the drummer, bass player and the guitar players. Seriously, the drummer Munetaka Higuchi (most known from the band Loudness) is practically loosing his mind on these fills. To be honest, this is one of the fastest songs I can think of for 1983 and prior. I haven't done my research thoroughly, but at the surface level, I would consider it shocking.

What tips it over the edge is that it is fronted by Mari Hamada, who later went on to be a pretty popular J-Pop\Rock artist who is still putting out pretty gnarly albums today. What makes this worth noting though is that her performance is stellar! This is a lead vocal performance that is ultra memorable (to me at least). Seems like a lot of the energetic vocalists of this era were still trying to "figure it out". Odd dynamics and production, strange control over screams and singing parts, etc. Mari Hamada really seemed to have this stuff figured out, even as far back as 1983.

I am far from an expert on Japanese music, but I would have to hope this track is genuinely noteworthy, and worth looking back with fresh perspectives today. Also, that 1983 cover art... Yes. Yes to all of that!