Sunday, May 9, 2010

Off-Genre: Not Quite Visual Kei Edition


X Japan: White Wind from Mr. Martin (Pata's Nap)


Miyavi: Jikoai, jigajisan, jiishiki kajou

Miyavi: Selfish love - Aishitekure, Aishiterukara


Janne Da Arc: Zero


Here are four short tunes from Japanese rock artists who are best known for playing lead guitar in well-known Visual Kei (VK) bands. VK as a genre, which began in the '80s in Japan, is a blend of glam rock, metal, and punk. In its early days, a VK band's appearance was part and parcel of the genre – think the New York Dolls cranked up to 11. These days, most VK bands have toned down the "visual shock." Maybe these aging stars realized that leather hot pants, Audrey Hepburn pearls, and fishnet stockings are no longer quite so flattering.

I mentioned X Japan in my first guest post. This supergroup defined Visual Kei back in the day and remains the stuff of legends. X Japan's sound can be classified as symphonic metal. What it wasn't was anything like this short piece by one of their two lead guitarists, Pata (we're all on a first-name basis with these guys). To me, this song's a little footnote that says, "Hey, when I'm not churning out power chords, did you know I can sound just like Willie Nelson?"

Next up are two tunes by VK artist Miyavi. I dragged my dear husband to see him on our vacation in London last fall, where I judge we were the oldest fans there by a good two decades. He's kind of the new kid on the VK block, and yes, he used to model fashion as well, can you tell from the pose? Such a cutie. Anyway, when he's not flirting with the camera and cranking out rock, he loves American blues. His two songs are meant to be heard as a set. He's a Muddy Waters fan, who these two songs honor by way of Tokyo. Miyavi's on his first US tour this June, mostly along the coasts, so if you have a chance, I heartily encourage you to check him out. Otherwise, look for these songs on YouTube, where he mimics the Mississippi River by flooding the studio.

Janne Da Arc (pronounced Jannu Daruku) is not named after the heroic Joan of Arc but rather after a manga character. To me, it seems like half the VK bands have chosen French names that are basically unpronounceable in Japanese. You, the lead guitarist (his mom knows him as Yutaka Tsuda), clearly released this tune to confuse Jimmy Page, who's probably still wondering when he recorded this.

Guest post by Geoviki

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