Oct 192013

Since Thursday I’ve been away from Seattle at a “retreat” with most of my co-workers hosted by the business I work for. Between the planned daytime and nighttime activities and staying up ’til 4 a.m. the last two nights while engaged in assorted unplanned and self-destructive activities, I’ve not had much time for NCS.  And my laptop has been very lonely.

This afternoon I decided to get online and at least quickly check my messages, and there I found one from our old Tokyo-based pal Phro. After being a frequent presence at this site and then eventually starting his own fiction blog, Phro now has a professional writing gig for a site called Rocket News 24. Phro’s message drew my attention to one of his recent articles, which was about a Japanese group named the Wagakki Band.

The Wagakki Band are unusual in at least two ways. First, they record covers of vocaloid songs. I didn’t know what vocaloids were, but The Font of All Human Knowledge explains that a vocaloid is software that enables users to synthesize singing by typing in the lyrics and information about the melody. I guess you could call it a digital vocalist. Apparently, vocaloid music has a big following in Japan, though it seems mostly unknown in the West. 

The second unusual aspect of The Wagakki Band’s music is their blending of traditional Japanese instruments and musical styles with Western hard rock. And so the band’s seven musicians (not counting fan-swinging vocalist Yuko Suzuhana) include not only a drummer, a guitarist, and a bassist but also a tsugaru-jamisen (Japanese lute) player, a koto (Japanese harp) player, a shakuhachi (Japanese flute) player, and a taiko drummer.

In his article, Phro collected the band’s three most popular videos, all of which are covers of vocaloid songs, as well as the original vocaloid tracks. His article includes a lot more information about the band, the videos, and the songs, and if you get into what you’re about to hear, you should read it — at this location.

I’m embedding the three Wagakki Band videos below, in a different order than Phro discussed them. I’m lining them up in order of my own preference, with the first one being my favorite — it’s the most hard-driving, hard-rocking song, and because it’s the most recent it also features the most elaborate production values.

I’ll be back to Seattle late tomorrow night, and after that life at NCS should return to something approaching normalcy.

 

 

 

11 Responses to “THE WAGAKKI BAND”

  1. djneibarger says:

    this is an amazing blend of instruments and styles. while i can’t say that it’s something i would listen to regularly, i would absolutely love to hear these songs performed live.

    • Islander says:

      I feel much the same way. There’s still a kind of dissonance (that’s probably the wrong word) about Japanese singing and melodies that still jars my ears. But I really do enjoy these three songs/videos, and I would love to see them live too.

  2. Booker says:

    Loves me the sound of some taiko drumming. I think my first exposure was via Sepultura’s “Kamaitachi” which they did with Japans’ Kodō group, pity it’s not a bit higher in the mix in the above.

    • Andy Synn says:

      Random aside, but our bassist has some fantastic stories about the time he visited Japan for a friend’s wedding and it happened to coincide with the drum festival. The Kodo drummers were apparently amazing.

  3. Craig says:

    That singer has some serious technique. And the shakuhachi player is awesome. Excellent musicianship all around.

    I agree that this would be cool to hear/see live.

  4. jeimssi says:

    I miss Phro!

  5. Chronic_Headache says:

    CD LINKS NOW!

  6. […] 10 days ago I posted about The Waggaki Band, a Japanese collective who have recorded covers of Vocaloid songs. Our Tokyo-based […]

  7. […] out about The Waggaki Band last October from our Tokyo-based friend Phro and wrote about them here, embedding a number of their videos. In addition to recording covers of vocaloid songs, they […]

  8. […] morning about a new forthcoming video by The Wagakki Band, who were first covered in our pages in this October 2013 post (again, thanks to a tip from Phro). They’re interesting in part because they combine […]

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