Released: 22.07.06 / Label: Sub Pop
Well this is a unique collaboration I didn’t know I wanted but I’m certainly glad to have. This is the edge of Indie territory, but seeing as this is a Sub Pop release focused around a Japanese artist (and I want to listen to it) we’re going to give it a pass.
CHAI is a unique J-Indie group that have made a name for themselves both inside and outside of Japan from early in their career. The four member group formed in 2012 in Nagoya. After some local success they moved to Tokyo in 2016 to pursue music full time. The all-female group met in high school and have been making music together since. The music they make is hard to put in a genre, I’ve seen “whimsical” or “experimental pop” thrown around a lot and I like those. They’ve done a lot of touring worldwide, some great collaborations, and have a really good Tiny Desk concert. If you haven’t seen that it’s definitely worth watching. It seems they’ve signed with Sony as of January this year (2022), so this review will likely be the first and last time you see them on this blog. Time will tell.
Superorganism is its own beast of a band, and I won’t be going into detail on them but they’re definitely worth checking out. See their website above for more info. Now, let’s check out what these groups have created together.
Well, that was a lot to unpack. For being such a short song they really crammed a lot in. So the basis of HERO JOURNEY is that CHAI is a group of heroes that are going to save the world, hence the child’s drawing of the group as superheroes for the album art. CHAI opens the track with a little mixed language rap that’s very hard to understand. For touring the world it’s surprising that they still haven’t learned English. But language issues aside, the music is kicking and the chorus really pops with a super happy groove and fun mix of CHAI and Superorganism synth work. The second and third verses are handled by Superorganism, which means CHAI is really only singing the chorus sections. This balance works really well for the song, but as a CHAI release it’s a strange choice. The song does get a nice dynamic shift in the middle when superorganism takes over, and the lyrics finally make sense.
I’m surprised to hear CHAI sound so much like PERFUME in this song. The flat melody line they sing shifts their sound completely and the music ends up having more of an impact than the vocals. It ends up sounding more like a Superorganism song than a CHAI song. And while the lyrics are about CHAI saving the world, that doesn’t change the arrangement of the track. It does make me wonder what section of music was composed by each band. It’s always interesting when groups doing electronic music work together, because it’s very hard to tell where that line is.
Stream or download the track