I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quruli -- Liberty & Gravity

As a person who’s into fun and bizarre videos, I’m tempted to hand the trophy to “Liberty & Gravity”. It’s a wonderland of showy nonsensical visuals joined with equally chaotic music. So far, it won the “Best Video of the Year” award at 2015 Space Shower Music Video Awards thanks to the directorial efforts of Jun Tamukai (田向潤), the man behind many Kyary Pamyu Pamyu videos including “Pon Pon Pon”. Since Quruli (くるり) is an alternative rock band and not a Harajuku fashion icon, he doesn't use any of those fanciful colors but his taste for visual madness is still recognizable here.

There’s no need for me to write out the whole biography of the band because you can learn plenty about them through English-language sources such as Wikipedia and generasia among other places by plugging their romanized name into Google. But since most of those sites haven’t updated their Quruli pages for a while and so haven’t kept up with the band’s recent membership changes, I just want to set things straight on their current line-up: Shigeru Kishida (岸田繁) (vocals and guitar), Masashi Sato (佐藤征史) (bass), and FanFan (ファンファン) (trumpets and keyboards). The first two members have been around since the band's birth in 1996.

The song and the video have received significant attention since being shared on English J-Entertainment blogs late last year. It certainly feels like a breath of fresh air even within Japan’s already diverse music market. At first it sounds like it’s all over the place because of its progressive nature and the way it throws so many influences into the blender: Okinawan music, Moldovan trumpets, and rap, just to name a few. Yet it’s obvious that the song is marketed to the pop-loving crowd despite those experimental elements. Yep, it is super catchy. I like the way Lendsey C. summarized the whole thing on the Black on the Canvas blog: Dave Matthews meets Lady Gaga. Let's see what you think.

According to another music blog beehype, Kishida was influenced by his impressions of Vienna while composing this song. He observed how many cultures from around the globe blend together in the Austrian city: from music and arts to food and architecture, so he decided to do the same in “Liberty & Gravity”. This fusion of cultures is also the backbone of Tamukai’s entertaining video.

Another reason why this song captivates me so much is because I haven’t heard Quruli sound this good in a long while. I first became interested in them circa-2004 when Japanese Alternative crowd on the net was raving about this band a lot. I was impressed by their playfulness and ambition in their then-recent albums “Team Rock” and “The World is Mine”, and“Liberty & Gravity” also showcases those qualities, although the actual song sounds nothing like the stuff they've done before. The band went through a folk rock phase for a while which brought some nice songs along the way but lasted for way too long, so I wanted the quirky Quruli back. “Liberty & Gravity” may as well be just another one-off effort, but I’ll stay optimistic until I hear their recent album “The Pier” to see if the rest of it lives up to this track.


1 comment:

  1. Hi nikala.

    Man, that is eclectic! That is one properly eclectic video and song. I actually watched it twice through. No wonder it got the award at Space Shower. It was chock-filled with eye candy and I don't think I've enjoyed choreography more since YUKI's "Joy". The song is so out there but I can see your point about it being aimed for the pop crowd. It's very addictive.

    I did notice Kishida threatening to giggle a bit a few times in the video. I couldn't blame him. :)


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