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tujiko noriko - Solo
'Solo' marks the triumphant return of one of our favourite Japanese exports (after sake and hentai) Tujiko Noriko. Don't let the slightly spannered cover put you off though, this isn't her J-Pop album, it's still the Noriko we know and love with all the cutesy vocal parts and crunchy odd-tronic production you could ever hope for. Last year's 'Blurred in my Mirror' (released on the Aussie Room40 label) showed a darker side to Noriko's work, and 'Solo' continues this with her songs taking a much more melancholy slant than usual. The album opens with the pounding industrial dirge of 'Magic', which without Noriko's gorgeous breathy vocals could very easily be mistaken for Nine Inch Nails; a curious blend of styles I'm sure you'll agree. People say that Noriko is Japan's answer to Bjork and I must say 'Solo' gives further weight to that claim; the production is truly exemplary throughout and the songs seem rather more mature and developed than on any of her previous albums. The sketchiness of her early Mego work is almost totally gone, the pop excess of 'From Tokyo to Niagara' is only here in spirit and as she whispers sweet nothings over deranged synthesizer drones on 'Sun!' you realised that Noriko has finally reached her destination. 'Solo' is the album that has been hinted at all these years and has only now been realised - tracks like 'Ending Kiss' and 'Gift' are among the finest she's put her name to, and she has finally reached a point where her records sound totally unique. There's no mistaking any track on the album for another artist, this is Tujiko Noriko's sound and we're lucky to be listening to the mechanics of her mind. A singular vision from a singular artist - this is where we reap the rewards cultural cross pollination. Huge recommendation.