Me & Mary [single]
Seksu is back in the lime-
light with an electrifying album
carrying twelve creditable tracks
to get under your skin Hush
is absolutely delightful...
YUKI CHIKUDATE'S EXCEPTIONAL VOCALS and keyboard skills sit beautifully
with James Hanna's fine voice and dexterous guitar work
never more so than with Asobi Seksu's terrific new album Hush.
to the narcotic nature of James and Yuki's music, we are told, the duo avoids
chemicals during the song-writing process. Apart, that is, from the one exception
to this rule: a mind-expanding mushroom experience in Martha's Vineyard earlier
"It was gorgeous breezy, with nothing but pink
skies," recalls Yuki. Throughout the day a stirring melody meandered its way in
and out of James' head, until he was finally able to store it away for good. This
dew-draped motif weaves its way through the vastly moving, emotional and sweet
Blind Little Rain until a minute of silence kicks in, effectively drawing
the Asobi Seksu's third LP Hush to a close, amid clusters of ambient Eno
The band's creative core explored music at an early age. Yuki
was playing child prodigy recitals at 8 and James bounced between sludgy hardcore
and Mogwai-schooled post-rock in his teens, but their potential career wasn't
put into perspective until a stint at the Manhattan School of Music. Rather than
work out what they wanted to do, they came to a decision about what they
didn't want to do.
James, a classically-trained guitarist, recalls:
"It was good to have something musical to do all day, since most of my bands were
like, 'Yeah, maybe we'll practice on Saturday or something'. Playing someone else's
music all the time seemed robotic after a while, though."
"It was a miracle
I graduated at all," adds Yuki. "I love playing the piano, but three hours of
it breaking it down, measure by measure, note by note
makes my mind go numb."
Soon after graduation James started tackling starry-eyed
pop tunes for the first time, with Yuki falling into the frontwoman position.
The problem was trying to be an actual band, as in a fully-functioning quartet
that tours and records together. Asobi Seksu 1.0 lasted between 2004's self-titled
learn-as-we-go-along debut and the Spring of 2005. Hanna and James gave it a go
with another bassist and drummer for their critically-acclaimed breakthrough
2006's Citrus LP but it didn't take long to realise that
line-up was doomed as well.
Which leads us to the frustration that fuelled
the making of Hush. As Hanna admits, Asobi Seksu "was starting to get somewhere"
post-Citrus, but they couldn't ride a cresting wave of hype after a debilitating
cycle of touring and personnel changes.
"Hush was written while
we felt destroyed" explains Hanna, quite simply. Which is funny, because the entire
record has a Phoenix rising vibe to it a clear sense of shimmering
chords and spiral staircase melodies that are occasionally blurred by bits of
guitar violence and sputtering drums check out the firework finale
climax of the fabulous Me & Mary and the lift-off portions of Sing Tomorrow's
Praise and Glacially, that, with its magical quality, is pretty and
"We knew we didn't want to do 7,000 reverb guitars this time,"
says James. "So we stripped the sound down and built it back up from there." The
results are stunning.
Another thing Asobi Seksu's avoided is sheer shoegaze
pop revivalism. While they'll admit to an affinity for that realm of into-the-ether-music,
Yuki and James are too obsessed with the possibilities of sound to explore a single
"Every shoegaze song is the same rhythmically," explains
James, adding that he'd be terribly bored if he followed that template. "Their
parts don't propel into other parts," adds Yuki. "Us, we meander a little more;
so it's not just one big wall of noise."
Wall of noise? The light and
controlled opening track Layers, for one, is downright gorgeous, suggesting
an afternoon spent in a gently-shaken snow globe. That's what happens when you
learn how to use space and dynamics to your advantage, skirting what some might
refer to as 'Kevin Shields Syndrome'.
"I've realized that while something
might sound awesome in my head," explains James, "adding fifty layers to it might
make it sound like s**t because you lose a lot of the details. Some parts have
only one guitar this time. At this stage he pauses and adds, with a smile: "We
agonized over that guitar, though."
While Hush treads the path
of rare musical quality, the individual tracks are all of some merit, including
Familiar Light, which has a more traditional Pop sound and is charmingly
evocative. Sing Tomorrow's Praise is also a great track whereas Transparence
is a moving, toe-tapping number with distinctive vocals and Risky And Pretty
does it so well, with undulating rhythms that mesmerise.
voice of Yuki Chikudate soars free on Asobi Seksu's electrifying album Hush;
a gentle, musically-adventurous album with emotive highlights. Asobi Seksu took
time out in February for a ten-venue tour of England and Ireland, including Dublin,
Belfast, Southampton, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and London.
Asobi Seksu's new album Hush was released on 16 February (2009) on One
Little Indian as a CD or DL.
| 2 Familiar Light | 3 Sing Tomorrow's Praise | 4 Gliss |
5 Transparence | 6 Risky And Pretty | 7 In The Sky
| 8 Meh No Mae | 9 Glacially | 10 I Can't See | 11 Me
& Mary | 12 Blind Little Rain
"The perfect ratio of sweet vocal
to abrasive rock" The Guardian
"Contenders for being
one of the most inventive bands out there" Clash
beautiful voice of Yuki Chikudate soars free on Asobi Seksu's electrifying album
Hush; a gentle, musically-adventurous album with emotive highlights"
Maggie Woods, MotorBar
Check out myspace.com/asobiseksu
wowed the media with the
stunning Citrus, Asobi
on track to seduce the critics again
pretty and melodic single
CD Me & Mary...
HAVING RECEIVED RAPTUROUS reviews from the critics last year for their
second album Citrus which spawned the fine singles Thursday,
Strawberries and Goodbye and glowing notices across the board,
Asobi Seku is set to return early in 2009 with a fantastic and none-more-assured
(but as yet untitled) third full-length offering.
The new record
is preceded by the "swooping, emphatic single" Me & Mary that "rolls forth
on a bed of drums and glistening guitars and features a soaring vocal performance
from Yuki Chikudate (keys/vocals)". Yuki and guitarist James Hanna form the core
of Asobi Seksu and the silky track is proof of a harmonious relationship.
To be released on 17 November (2008), the beautifully-presented Me & Mary
is a pretty song with evocative melodies that sounds rather exotic, blending perfectly
with Yuki's soft-voiced, seductive vocals.
Me & Mary is backed
by a non-album track, Breathe Into Glass a gentle, slower delivery
with poignant vocals that has a romantic, relaxed sound with an unusual musical
accompaniment. It is not surprising that Asobi Seksu has attracted such welcome
attention and the new album (title to be announced) will follow the single on
16 February (2009) on CD/DL/Vinyl.
Asobi Seksu's latest single Me & Mary was released on One
Little Indian Records on 17 November (2008).
Me & Mary is a pretty song with evocative melodies that sounds rather exotic,
blending perfectly with Yuki's soft-voiced, seductive vocals" Maggie
Reviews for Citrus
ratio of sweet vocal to abrasive rock" The Guardian
with grace and glee, it swoons brightly" The Independent
"A Stunningly beautiful body of work… breathtaking" NME
"A real triumph" The Fly
"Something special and unique" Pitchfork
"Held together by an ocean of irresistible hooks" Drowned
Check out myspace.com/asobiseksu