Stained glass imagery as an album cover is usually a good sign. We’re approaching the upper limits of the indie classification again by reviewing this song, but judging by the lack of attention for this release, I think it still classifies as J-Indie. These artists have about 30 years combined experience in the industry, so I’m excited to take a look. Let’s see who’s behind Dystopia first.
Tomita Lab. is the solo project of prolific Japanese producer Tomita Keiichi. 2022 marks his 20th year working in the industry, and even at 60 years old he’s still going strong. The majority of his work is as a producer, but he’s also contributed as a composer and arranger for many albums throughout his career. His most recent release “7+” features 20 guest performers and is where we get today’s track. Dystopia features vocals by artist AAAMYYY from the psychedelic rock band Tempalay. We’ll go into more detail about her work when we review her music, but she’s a force to be reckoned with in the music scene in Japan. All this to say that, with two powerhouses working together my expectations for this track are set pretty high. Let’s take a listen and see what they’ve made.
For a song called Dystopia that was an absolute joy to listen to. AAAMYYY’s smoky vocals are a perfect match for the percussive and almost frantic energy of Tomita’s track. The first half is off the wall in just about everyway, bubbly bass sounds, lo-fi piano parts, and sweeps shoved in all over the place keep the groove on its toes. The vocal line is simple, very pop oriented, and anchors the listener firmly in the pocket of the groove.
Then, out of nowhere, the parts switch roles completely in the second half of the song. The music calms down into a tight funk groove, restructuring themes and allowing the vocals to start exploring their full range. I absolutely love the change and was invested in where the track was headed, but the ending felt somehow lacking. They fake a return to the songs earlier themes but then hit the escape button and the track ends. It works in its own way as a surprise, but it felt like there was a better way it could have been done.
The only downside of this track is how overdeveloped it really is. The sounds and the melodic phrases are pushed to near breaking with complexity in some sections, which some listeners may find to be too much. It was a lot even for me. I usually listen to the songs on repeat while writing but I had to stop this one on my third pass so that I could concentrate. So it’s great for when you can listen actively, but it demands too much attention to work as background music.
Dystopia is an energetic and creative track balanced perfectly with incredible vocals. Worth a listen, if only to marvel at its ingenuity.
Reviewed: 22.07.08 / Reviewer: EB