Asa Chang And Junray
I'm convinced that after the somewhat surprise success of their debut album Jun Ray Song Chang, the rotating cast of Asa Chang And Junray (aka Asa Chang and various guests) decided to go off the deep end and see just how weird they could get while at the same time making great music. The result of those experiments is this Tsu Gi Ne Pu EP, and if you enjoyed their first album, you'll find more to like here, as well as some bizarre musical humor that is some of the strangest that I've heard in some time.
When I use all of the above adjectives and say that this collection of 5 songs is weird, I still don't get the feeling that the group is being willfully odd in order to attract a certain audience. I genuinely feel like they're simply experimenting with how far you can take disparate sounds and elements and combine them into something so listenable and fun. As on their first release, a good portion of it actually works. Shall we get started?
"Toremoro" opens the disc with the digitally manipulated sounds of birds chirping before a flute melody drifts in. As time passes, a tabla rhythm slowly builds, along with other electronic elements (one of which sounds like a door opening and shutting on the Starship Enterprise). Eventually, the song takes off with another blend of blistering cut-up vocals, electronics, organic percussion, and keyboard squeals that reaches a giddy height. "Touginepu To Ittemita" arrives as one of the weaker tracks on the album, recycling the cut-up vocals and tabla ideas they used so amazingly on "Hana," but "Xylophone" follows it up with one of the most strange little tracks I've heard in awhile, a mixture of spaghetti western, blipping electronics, and overwrought vocals that somehow work.
Nothing quite prepares you for "Kaikyo," though, as the group mixes sounds of the tides with somewhat amateur horn melodies, a cinematic background chorus and hopalong percussion that will probably test the listening ability of many. Closing out the EP is a track that feels only partially finished, and there is a large amount of quiet before a throwaway hidden track arrives (mixing their cut-up vocals with an arrpeggio instead of the usual tabla). In the end, you get a little over 20 minutes of new material, and it's much more hit-or-miss than their debut release. At this point, the group is definitely still doing some vital sound experiments, but they need to keep branching out (as they do on this disc) rather than keep re-treading the same formula (something they also do here).