Boomkat Product Review:
Room 40 is a label that has already impressed us deeply with its hand-picked selection of electronic minimamlism from the likes of Keith Fullerton Whitman, Taylor Deupree, Greg Davis and DJ Olive among many others, but this label debut from Japan's Tenniscoats is by far its most ambitious, endearing release to date. For a start Tenniscoats operate in a much more inclusive musical arena - their delicate blend of homespun melodies, traditional Japanese songwriting and gorgeous instrumentation press much more emotive buttons than the icy musical tundras often visited by this label. The packaging is also quite remarkable - a beautifully constructed double-gatefold covered in metallic gold illustrations and washed-out images - certainly one of the nicest looking objects we've stocked this year. The title of the album 'Totemo Aimasho' loosely translates as "Lets Meet Very Much" - and apparently doesn't make much sense in Japanese either - but the warm sentiment perfectly sums up this remarkable album's otherworldly pop reductions. The key to Tenniscoats' success is the fact that while they retain that almost naïve, sweet quality you get on many discs of this kind, they never resort to being meaninglessly twee - you have female vocals and sugared electronics but it's done in such a way that sidesteps obvious over-sentimentality or cringe-worthy childishness. There are precious few squeaky toy sounds and chirping birds present on this record and it's much appreciated, in place of this we have detuned pianos, woodwind instruments and distorted synthesizers, creating the sound you'd imagine Fennesz would construct if he were to visit more traditional song structures. Tenniscoats manage to reign in the sounds of the avant-garde and knit them into accessible and wonderfully listenable vignettes which you find yourself going back to again and again. There are clear influences from bands such as the aforementioned Fennesz and Scandinavia's Tape, and the whole free (freak?) folk in general, maybe by way of Maher Shalal Hash Baz, but what Tenniscoats have ended up with is an album which stands on its own as totally singular and hugely enjoyable. 'Totemo Aimasho' is a record you can sink into and absorb bit by bit, exploring and diving deep into that strange Eastern land of cherry blossom and raw fish. Take our advice, go grab yourself one of the most enjoyable leftfield pop treats we've come across so far this year. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE.