Asobi Seksu | Hush (Polyvinyl)

cd_asobi-seksu.jpgHush is an album you can truly enjoy for its eccentric individuality.







If by chance you like nothing else about Asobi Seksu you have to love their name. Taken from Japanese, "asobi seksu" translates to "playful sex." The Japanese American band, made up of vocalist/keyboardist Yuki Chikudate and vocalist/guitarist James Hanna, has been their entire lives in the making and have just released their third album, Hush.

Asobi Seksu has been described as part of the new wave of shoegaze/dream pop music that was born in the late ’80s but saw its rise in popularity during the early ’90s in Britain. While the genre never made it Stateside, the second wave deemed "nu-gaze" has recently seen movement on both sides of the pond, but primarily in the States. In its original form, shoegaze became a term popular in Britain to describe this small niche of bands often characterized by the media for their sort of emo-nature, including singing sad, undistinguishable lyrics that were drowned out by either a hard rock guitar or electonica music. These groups were not known for their entertaining performances but for their mundane, dreary style accompanied by their nonstop floor gazing, or what more obviously resembled shoegazing. Since the original wave, nu-gaze has become more popular not merely out of its ability to reach distant shores but through its pure sound.

To put it in simple terms, it’s more like ambient meets indie meets electronica. Thrown all together like a Pollack painting, the sound comes out a lot more subdued and merciful than one would think. Chikudate’s childlike vocals lull you into a remarkably hypnotic state that is absolutely heaven and more than relaxing. If you like Enya you will most definitely like "Layers," the initial track on this album. Even though the song sounds nothing like a Christmas song, you can’t help but picture snow falling when you hear this track. With bells ringing lightly in the background and Yuki’s subtle, angelic voice dodging in between the bells, you can’t help but feel optimistic and playful yourself.

As the album continues, the music becomes a bit more upbeat and bouncy but never so much that it drowns out the true calming nature of any of the tracks or becomes pop-like. Hush is an album you can truly enjoy for its eccentric individuality, as can pretty much be said for the whole genre in general. Halfway through the track is a short, light instrumental interlude reminiscent of yoga music. It’s safe to say this CD has relaxation and spirituality written all over it. "Blind Little Rain" is the sweetheart of the album and reminiscent of "Wild Horses" by The Sundays, one of the original English dream-pop bands. Saved for last, it’s a mysterious little track that, if given enough time, reveals a hidden instrumental track to the patient listener. Resembling the interlude, it’s so subdued you won’t even realize you’re listening to it until halfway through the song. B | Jennifer Manjarez

RIYL: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Malory, M83

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