Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bespa Kumamero - Spiral Connector

Spiral Connector is the latest full-length offering from Japan’s dynamic digital performance duo, Bespa Kumamero. This high-energy, eclectic pair met and formed in 2001, after then-poet and budding photographer Azumi Kuwadate, (vocals and lyrics,)  read an article in a local paper written by Monkichi Irikura, (Music Programming, Guitar, Vocals,) in which he talked about his innovative, homemade studio equipment, instruments and artworks. She was so impressed she emailed him and they met, quickly realizing they shared a love of electronic music, performance art and fashion. Thus began a fruitful and creative partnership that has taken them all over the world, from Europe, to the US to Mexico. Anyone who has seen them live or even seen a filmed live can tell you they stop at nothing to entertain, incorporating traditional Japanese dance, sword dance, acrobatics, infectious rave energy, bright cyberpunk looks and other colorful costumes, makeup and the aforementioned machines and instruments of their own making.
Their music is extremely varied and eclectic, making it more than just your average repetitive techno plod and this album is no exception. There is much to hold your interest. Each song is it's own entity while still staying cohesive to the overall vibe of the band. The album begins with the song “Prologue,” in which the slightly distorted vocals are delivered by Monkichi over some some nice drums, synth and guitar that builds and breaks abruptly to transition into “Like A Moonlight,” where Azumi’s lovely vocals take over and more catchy synths are present.  

The entire albums vocals are usually clear, melodic and have a pleasing, dreamy, electropop feel but often vary and become stronger to convey different emotion effectively. To put it plainly, this woman can sing and her tone is appealing. Monkichi does sing quite a bit on the album to a great effect and there is even a French speaking guest-vocal, (ELECTRONIKBOY,) on the third song, “BK’s Je Suis Fou,” that works very well alongside Azumi. I think that’s what I like the most about this band –  the variety and experimentation does not disappoint. They are different enough to hold your attention, but not too “weird” to be off-putting. The music throughout  is dance-oriented, industrial-tinged electropop, strong on beats, breaks, hooks and melody, eclectic and varied. Take the Eastern-flavored “Totem Master,” which features some cool Tabla-sounding drums and interesting vocal delivery. I googled the name and apparently this is the nineteenth episode of the Star Wars: Ewoks animated television series, but it’s also a World of Warcraft character and a game for your phone, so I’m not quite sure what they are referencing here, but I just thought that was a funny bit of trivia and would throw that in.

I really liked “Betty’s Mirror,” which made me feel like I was trapped in a video game, (in a good way,) and the title track, “Spiral Connector,” a deceptively simple, piano-laced track that made me feel like I was walking though a sunny garden with dear friends. “Kimi ga inai asa,” and “Losing time (Toby and Bus Remix,)” were also standouts for me, both being more on the mellow, dreamy side. This album has something for every mood, upbeat dance tracks and reflective, more mid-tempo tracks as well. 

I will admit I had not heard of Bespa Kumamero before this album, but I immediately liked it upon first listen and continued to listen to it nonstop for days afterward. I can honestly say I recommend this album and have come to really respect the group as I have done the research into their history. They are truly creative in their appearance and performances and their music is very likeable. I can’t wait to see what they do next. 

Romantic Waves  -  January 20, 2008
Plastic Confusion - May 22, 2009
Spiral Connecter   - December 2010 

Important Links:
Darkest Labyrinth Records
Bespa Kumamero Official Japanese website:
Bespa Kumaero Official Myspace:
Azumi Kuwatade geosites site:
Azumi’s Blog:
Aumi’s Twitter:
Bespa Kumamero’s official youtube Channel: