|Trinitron: Après Garde (CAR-81)
Matt Schley took the lovely photo of Kaname that we used in the sleeve, so thanks to him for letting us use it. There are six tracks on this release and it was mostly written and recorded in the usual frantic just-before-Miha-and-Zana-leave-for-Slovenia-again circumstances. That's not an excuse, that's how the group does its best work. Actually it's the only way they do any work.
1. My Boring Feelings
This is at its heart one of those typical elitist indie songs lambasting the blandness and meaningless of mainstream pop. In this case the trigger was the way so many Japanese pop songs seem to insist on singing about how great friends are. Now friends are mostly boring and tend to be people we take for granted most of the time, so the lyrics focus on that aspect. Originally it was meant to be a more aggressive, glam rock-influenced track, but we could never quite get that to work (although the rhythm still has that sort of "schaffel beat" swing to it) and it ended up just sounding like us, i.e. something electronic happening and two girls with funny accents talking over it.
2. Music to Watch Boys By
This one came out of listening way to much to You Know It's True by Milli Vanilli, so the challenge was taking this pretty definitively late-80s/early-90s beat and bringing the song back into some sort of world at least slightly consistent with our new wave-influenced way of doing things. The spoken word intro was a parody of the way CL from K-Pop quartet 2NE1 always does these really sassy intros to their songs. The lyrics pretty much describe exactly what vocalists Kaname K and Zana C get up to when they're in India or out at festivals and things in Japan, but I thought there was an interesting wrinkle in there in that feminism and orientalism are sort of opposed in the kind of dynamic they're describing.
3. One Great Year in Tsukuba
This was an attempt to do a full-on acid house track, plus we'd been listening a lot over the past year to capsule's ridiculous World of Fantasy album, so we sort of challenged ourselves to something that would match it for sheer crassness and idiotic simplicity. The "one great year in Tsukuba" of the title was the year Zana C's sister spent as an exchange student in the Japanese countryside, all of whose stories seemed to begin with people drinking too much and end in someone being sick.
4. Liquidi Liquids
This is probably the strangest song on the album, and it was influenced by the mad, stick-it-together-and-see-what-comes-out approach that seems to characterise German new wave band Liaisons Dangereuses' excellent self-titled album. The title is from a sign at Venice Marco Polo Airport and the lyrics are probably the most abstract but also the most political, coming out of some thoughts about Eurozone economics, the rise of nationalism in economic crises and Italian football. It's the combination of something ostensibly silly concealing something quite specific and serious that interested me about it.
5. Kids and Girls
It's kind of a tradition for Trinitron albums to have one song that the two girls do as a sort of romantic duet. This one plays out on a TV screen between two pop idols doing a saucy, lesbian-themed photo shoot or music video, ostensibly for the benefit of the male audience, but what they've noticed is that the world inside the TV, with its obsessive fetishising of youth and femininity is the real world, while the audience outside the TV set don't really exist. They're just eyes on stalks, doomed only to watch. It's probably the only song on the album that we approached completely straight, without joking around. We still tried to fuck it up a bit with some noise, a la Orange Zero by Movietone or anything by Japan's excellent Extruders, but we were still honestly trying to make something genuinely eerie and pretty.
6. Aus With the Ausgang
This is another NDW-influenced track, and it's a celebration of Tokyo's indie/underground nightlife. There's a classic old mod song that goes, "I'm in with the in crowd..." and you know, we have our little group of weirdos we hang out with but we're definitely not in with any "in crowd", so we figured we must be aus with the ausgang instead. The beat's one of those fierce, driving, DAF style drum and sequencer combos, and the lyrics are a deliberate jumble of images ripped out of context into a sort of chaotic mess that mirrors what my brain often feels like at the end of another long weekend. There are shout-outs to a lot of the live venues and bars we hang out with, especially in Koenji (One, Studio DOM, 20000V, Enban, the UFO Club, Bamii) but also other places (Echo in Shibuya and Ausland in Berlin) and mates' bands or events (Youth is Wasted, Twee Grrrls Club, Zibanchinka). I know it's self-indulgent to talk about this here, but they all deserve credit for being awesome.