This weeks review is the third album from Japanese pop/jazz/punk mentalist weirdoes Midori (ミドリ), Hello Everyone. Nice To Meet You. We Are Midori (or あらためまして、はじめ まして、ミドリです), disappointingly not entitled Third after the first and second were First and Second, respectively.
Midori, not to be confused with the other, more sedate Japanese artist Midori, or the other, more sickly Japanese liquor Midori, is comprised of three dudes from Osaka who play piano, drums, and bass, with the sinisterly schoolgirl-outfitted Mariko Goto filling in on vocal duties, as well as (allegedly; see below) playing guitar. This combination of instruments would, on the face of it, suggest some kind of Coldplay-like adult-contemporary coma-inducing product, however the reality is far, far removed. With various sources listing the Midori genre as ranging from j-pop to avant-garde to experimental rock to jazzcore to ... noise, all of which seem apt at particular points of Hello Everyone..., there is little chance of this putting you to sleep.
Sparse use of guitar on Hello Everyone... means most tracks predominantly feature the combination of bass, piano & drums, rounded out by the Goto's voice as the forth instrument, swinging between more melodic moments to, at times, sounding as if she were vomiting blood while she caterwauls in and out of key over the backing track. The use of an upright bass tends toward a Roni Size/Reprazent New Forms-era-type sound in places (e.g. track 7 "ひみつの2人", also check out the single "Swing"), as well as lending a sort of loungey feel to some of the tracks, such as in track 6, "ちはるの恋", while getting classical/technical elsewhere with the use of what sounds like a bow in "根性無しあたし、あほぼけかす". While the latter track initially seems a jolly number, "根性無しあたし、あほぼけかす" apparently translates to "I Have No Guts, My Family Is Scum", although Google Translate provides a more humorous/less bleak "I No guts, or almost only floss" (ludicrous translations such as this are the reason most of these track names have not been translated in this review).
Piano features prominently in every track excluding the last one, "無欲の無力", although this track features some organ for you devotees of keyed instruments, and generally the piano leads where guitar might in your more traditional "punk" set up. This means the guitar, when it does show up, like for instance in track 8 "5拍子" ("5 beats"), seems almost seems tacked on, perhaps out of necessity for Midori to appear more "authentic" punk. Indeed, the live album "ライブ!!" ("Live!"), released shortly after Hello Everyone... dispensed with guitar entirely, allegedly due to rain at the performance venue, however this reviewer has the sneaking suspicion that no one in the band actually plays guitar.../speculation. Rounding out the punk aesthetic along with dubious guitar skills (I kiiiiiiiid I kid) is the extreme brevity of the album, clocking in at less than 32 minutes over the 10 tracks.
All in all, Hello Everyone... being Midori's first release on a major label (Sony), combined with the implication that this counts as "pop" in some circles, makes me mildly sad to not live in Japan and not be treated to such rarities on the majors, compared to the garbage we are currently offered, or by way of the implied accessibility of pop(ular) music. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Sony on removing Midori's videos from You Tube - way to broaden the appeal of your acts, jackasses, now everyone can read this review and have even less idea what I am talking about, and with this ignorance have even less incentive to by your product.
- お猿 (track 4)
- 根性無しあたし、あほぼけかす (track 5)