Winds of Change, or a ‘Happy End’ in an Asano Inio manga, of all places

– Nico H.

In the short manga A Girl on the Shore, by master-mangaka Asano Inio concerning adolescence in a small town (and the mind-numbing ennui and alienation that seems to permeate all small towns) the song, 風をあつめて, or Gather the Wind by the band Happy End makes an appearance. Okay, and?

Continue reading “Winds of Change, or a ‘Happy End’ in an Asano Inio manga, of all places”

Brief Notes on Some Books

– Amérique Nakamura

In which writer/poet/critic Amérique Nakamura opines on some stuff worth reading while on-the-go, or rather on-the-run. Opinions strictly her own, of course.

“Nada” by Jean-Patrick Manchette (1973)

One of Manchette’s masterpieces in the neo-polar subgenre. Manchette once stated he was satisfied that a group of radicals treated the novel as a theoretical text and abandoned their violent plans of action. The lesson, of course, being that revolutionary action without the public’s support is doomed to being the spectacle’s tool. Manchette’s cool noir novel nevertheless is more impactful than a pamphlet, however, because it’s also entertaining to read. The finest example of Dashiell Hammet-esque behaviorist prose at its most stylistically efficacious. ‘She caressed his cheek sweetly, but Épaulard sensed her disappointment and there was nothing for it. Cash was mistaken: things would not go better tomorrow. Tomorrow they would be dead.’

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Lowest Lowest Girl at new heights, or a Streaming, CD, Record review

– Nico H.

On May 1, 2020, J-pop-rock-hip-hop-whatever-the-heck group Gesu no Kiwami Otome (in its original Japanese ゲスの極み乙女。, localized ‘Lowest Lowest Girl’ but we’ll stick with ‘Gesu’) released their fifth studio album, Streaming, CD, Record, a rather obvious reference to the myriad of ways the album (and all quote-unquote content) can be consumed. A rather self-reflexive, meta title. Does it reflect in the music itself? I suppose it does.

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No Room at the Morgue review, or the spectacular image reflected in the private eye

– Amérique Nakamura

It’s hard not to come up with a reason to write more about Jean-Patrick Manchette. The ‘agent provocateur’ of the crime novel, ‘gadfly foe of the Fifth Republic.’ Le Homme of the Parisian cultural scene, according to James Ellroy, and he is absolutely correct. Man-oh-man Manchette indeed.

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Today I asked: The Producers of The ReVe Festival: Day 1

– Nico H.

It was June on the nineteenth when Red Velvet opened the doors for the first day of their ReVe Festival. And the song that greeted visitors and listeners alike was “Zimzalabim,” a zany and colorful dance track that borders on the avant-garde. The bells and the bass and the synths loop through one another with drops like rollercoasters. And when colored with Red Velvet’s vocals and harmonies does the song truly hypnotise and mesmerise. “Zimzalabim” is a firecracker of a song.

The ReVe Festival: Day 1 then continues that momentum with “Sunny Side Up!” and “Milkshake.” The group’s melodies shimmer in the former and give a breezy chill in the former before propelling forward through the rest of the mini-album. With so many sights and sounds to be experienced, Red Velvet’s dreamy fantastical festival is worth revisiting for another day or two or even three.

And the ringleaders responsible for the theme park’s theme song is none other than Caesar & Loui, with the following two attractions provided by Moonshine, neither of which are strangers to Red Velvet’s ouvre nor to Balloon Day. They helped shape the sound and aesthetic of The ReVe Festival: Day 1 and helped propel it to becoming Red Velvet’s best selling album.

I’ve spoken with Caser & Loui and Moonshine on previous occasions, and I’ve had the opportunity to do so once again, to talk to them about their respective songs and their experience and position in the world of K-Pop. Enjoy, everybody. Continue reading “Today I asked: The Producers of The ReVe Festival: Day 1”

Today I asked: Timothy ‘Bos’ Bullock

– Nico H.

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Timothy ‘Bos’ Bullock. Photo provided by Bullock.

From bad to really bad, Red Velvet have had a busy 2018. And yet, they managed to look good while doing it.

At the top of the year, Red Velvet released a repackage of their second album, aptly named The Perfect Red Velvet, and the title track, Bad Boy.” The track itself was immediately a hit, putting a brighter spotlight on the group, and the group would go on to convert that energy into momentum throughout the rest of the year.

Summer was treated with Red Velvet’s Japan debut with #Cookie Jar, and still had a trick up their sleeves with Summer Magic. Coupled with the Red Room and Redmare solo concerts held throughout the year, it was a dream come true for fans of the group.

It was a busy 2018 for Red Velvet. But they weren’t about to slow down.

On Nov. 30, the mini-album RBB was released onto the world, accompanied by title track “RBB (Really Bad Boy).” In calling back to the song that got Red Velvet hitting the ground running at the beginning of the year, this new title track acts as a sort of victory lap as 2018 begins to wind down. The song reflects this, too. Where “Bad Boy” is sultry and mysterious and velvety, “RRB (Really Bad Boy)” is so red it breaks the equalizer. Immediate and bombastic, almost celebratory. Lively horns, a booming bass, and piercing screams all work together with a manic energy to take the listener and make them dance along.

And while the song has the intensity of a big band, there is a logic to things, a leader at the front conducting every instrument. Timothy ‘Bos’ Bullock is that bandleader’s name, the producer behind hits like Tiffany’s “I Just Wanna Dance,” NCT U’s “일곱 번째 감각 (The 7th Sense),” and EXO’s “Artificial Love.” He is not a stranger to center stage, and isn’t about to break a sweat when stepping into the spotlight with Red Velvet. Where they have momentum, he knows how to direct it.

I recently had the chance to ask the man himself about his process producing Red Velvet’s newest hit, and what goes into producing a song for the K-Pop scene in general. Enjoy, everybody.

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Today I asked (again): Moonshine

– Nico H.

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Ludvig Evers (left) and Jonatan Gusmark (right) of Moonshine. Photo provided by Moonshine.

Summer is a time for both recreation and self-reflection. A time to take a break after month upon months of grueling work, while still keeping an eye on what’s to come, later in the year. A second chance.

Red Velvet understands this, and has made this sentiment the main theme behind their most recent comeback, with the mini-album Summer Magic and the accompanying title track, the 8-bit retro pop anthem “Power Up.” Instead of chasing love like in more recent comebacks, the very velvet “Peek-A-Boo,” the recent “#CookieJar,” and the now iconic “Bad Boy,” Red Velvet have decided to turn up the heat in another way. To just have some plain old fun.

‘To have fun whether I’m playing or working,’ the group sings, keeping in tone and tune with the instrumental itself, a bright and bouncy beat with a lot of moving parts. Like playing a new game for the first time, it takes a little bit to get a grasp of the rules. Keep busy, learn a lot, but never lose the groove.

 

And the team behind this hit is none other than Moonshine, the duo that are also responsible for “Peek-A-Boo.” Playing into the theme of summer, Moonshine gets another chance to prove just how skilled and versatile they are, giving Red Velvet a new title track. It’s a first for the girl group, to bring the same producers along for the ride, for another comeback.

So, in also playing into the theme of second chances, I’ve followed up with Moonshine about “Power Up,” their process in making the instrumental, and the fun things they’ve learned since the last time we spoke. Enjoy, everybody.

Continue reading “Today I asked (again): Moonshine”