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:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Thousand Hits - Thank You!

SHINee does an imitation of how happy I felt after hitting 5000 views
 I wanted to take a moment to say Thank You to everyone who has stopped by my blog over the last year & a half - I have now reached over five thousand hits! I started this blog in January of 2011 to force myself to start writing again, (even just a little bit,) by sharing personal anecdotes, writing movie & music reviews, sharing some of my own original artwork, & to teach myself some Photoshop using the pictures I took in Second Life, etc. I have already posted more in the five months of this year than I had in all of 2011, so that's one major feat. It has been a strange journey, though. Things have not always gone so great - I have removed posts for various reasons I won't get into right now, (I'll save that for some more "philosophical" posts at a later date.) I have learned some hard lessons, even gained & lost friends. Even though my progress may seem small to some, & I know I am still very amateurish compared to what is possible,  my overall progress means a lot to me & I do feel feel proud to have at least been trying. I have learned a lot & look forward to learning more. I recently updated the entire look & feel of the blog - from the colors to the fonts - even honing the logo, (which is my original drawing,) & I am very pleased. I am still working on finding my writing "voice," constantly reading, exploring new tutorials, other great blogs & finding new inspirations every day. Frankly, there's so much to be inspired by & learn from it's sometimes hard to keep up.

I will do my best to keep improving. Thank You.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Thing with Two Heads

Hey everyone - please take a moment to read this hilarious interview with my old pal & awesome deejay/music mogul, "Bazooka Joe" Almeida from the folks at SYFFAL
"Bazooka Joe" & I met in Las Vegas way back in the '90's when I had a radio show right after his on KUNV, (the number one college radio station in the country at the time!) It was a pretty crazy, exciting time for sure. We became friends, listened to a lot of music, went to shows & he even ended up working at the cd store I managed for a time. He's a great guy & now works with his lovely wife, Christine, under the moniker "The Thing with Two Heads," deejaying & managing Slovenly Recordings & Black Gladiator out of Pennsylvania.

Here's another interview, featuring both of them, from Fly Magazine

Photo: Fly Photo by Bianca Cordova

 Please give them your support. These people are legit - the real deal. Total bad ass music FIENDS.