Boomkat Product Review:
Absolutely unmissable cult Japanese psychedelic biz from the Tokyo underground's enigmatic Shizuka Miura and Fushitsusha and Les Rallizes Dénudés' Maki Miura. Originally released in 1994, its fusion of dream pop and fuzzy noise still sounds fresh - imagine Nico playing with Roy Montgomery and you'll get some idea.
When Shizuka died in 2010, she left behind a legacy that's seen her star rise steadily ever since. She was well-known in Japan for her work as a maker of creepy looking ball-jointed dolls, and started a musical career in the early 1990s when Maki Miura adapted a poem she wrote and put it to music. It was the beginning of an almost two-decade long collaboration that gave us four full-lengths, but their debut "Heavenly Persona" was their only studio album.
Released in 1994 by the legendary PSF label, it was dedicated to Japanese dollmaker Katan Amano and stands as the best example of Shizuka's sound - straightforward in some ways, and inexplicable in others. It wrongfoots us from the very beginning, opening with an ear piercing blast of harsh noise and wailing guitars before settling into its relatively sparse, misty groove. 'Butterfly, Alight on a Girl's Lips' is childlike in some ways, with Shizuka's pitchy vocal pairing neatly with Maki's reverberating, purposefully-detuned electric guitar strums and EBowed whines. It's like a "Souvlaki"-era Slowdive track on a wonky turntable, or a mangled Flying Nun/Kiwi scene demo tape, and Shizuka's vocals soar overhead like migrating birds.
'Plan for Solitude' is even more convincing, an almost 10-minute stroll through a dimly lit gothic landscape accompanied by dusty drums and echoing, bluesy strums. Shizuka's sound is hard to place - she's not attempting to emulate the Western bands of the era, but take enka into radically different places, bridging the gap between American psychedelia and traditional Japanese pop. The heartbreak is largely the same, after all. Our favorite moment comes with 'Crystal Wings', an unmistakable weepie that cuts thru Talk Talk-esque prog-post-rock shimmers with fourth world strings that spike the mood with alien energy. Yet again, it's Shizuka's Nico-like moans that tie the track up with a neat bow. Her singing style is unconventional but never without emotions that have the power to crush us more quickly than a boulder rolling off a cliff. The album ends on '6 Gram Star', a spartan, jangling wail that coalesces into loose-limbed, elegiac indie before crashing into noise.