Before rock band 88Kasyo Junrei announced their new album Tokyo (凍狂), the band released several music videos to share which new tracks the trio had brewed since the release of the album Nippon (日本) in 2015.
It seems to be a well-thought-out strategy to warm up the fans for new music, but in the meantime, it was left open whether anything will be released at all. The only thing the fans got were the live announcements. The band has regularly sold-out shows and can also be found at festivals in Japan. They even went to France last Summer for an exclusive performance at a festival. Four music videos, spread over two years, were released with a fifth music video released shortly before the release of the seventh album in August in the year 2018, Tokyo.
The result is that the fans of this band already know more than half of the album before the album was officially released. An interesting approach, but not really a problem, because the music of 88Kasyo Junrei is catchy and has to be repeated several times, especially if you still own a CD player. The same is also the case with the latest album with a kind of ode to Tokyo.
01.虚夢虚夢 (Eternal Virgin)
03.脳の王国 (The Kingdom of the Brain)
04.幽楽町線 (Yusakamachi Line)
07.紫光 (Purple Light)
09.怪感旅行 (Monsters Travel)
88Kasyo Junrei (八十八ヶ所巡礼, hachi ju hachi kasho junrei, eighty-eighth pilgrimage) consists of vocalist and bass player Margaret Hiroi, also the band leader of this interesting bunch, guitarist Katzuya Shimizu and drummer Kenzo. The description rock band is a minimal description of the music the threesome makes, because the band combines heavy metal with psychedelic and progressive rock, but also jam band and alternative are two genres they know how to incorporate in the tracks with their own twist.
From the beginning, you will be taken at a fast pace of tracks that all have a different character, only you will really see them when you really dive into the music. 88Kasyo Junrei made it easier for those who are interested, since there are a lot of the songs on the album that has an own music video. In these videos, you can see the explanation of all these characters that are put into the songs. But what keeps popping up in the music and in the videos is that this band loves the surprise effect.
And we’re not talking about the intriguing outfits, even though they’re always quite refreshing, or the inventiveness of the content of the music videos. In this case, it’s about the instrumental part, where Katzuya Shimizu knows how to blow you away with his instrumental drive and creativity. It seems that the band has chosen to give space to the guitarist, without losing the balance. Just think of Margaret Hiroi, who takes care of the vocals as well as the bass guitar. The drummer Kenzo has certainly not been hidden away, which you can really see as a backbone for this band. He picks up the pace very well and he knows how to play together with the guitarist, which strengthens the tracks very well. You notice very well that this band is very well attuned to each other and the band members know very well what they get out of each other.
To simply describe 88Kasyo Junrei’s Tokyo we need one word: whirlwind. There’s almost no time to calm down until you get to track 7, namely 紫光 (Purple Light), and that’s almost at the end of the album, evoking the melancholy. The refreshingly inspiring tracks provide an exhilarating feeling. This band is slowly moving towards their 15th anniversary, but still doesn’t give the feeling of playing without enthusiasm. If you like a bit of chaos and craziness (look at the album where you see a kind of potato man with the city of Tokyo growing on the back) mixed with various genres, emotions and extravagant band members, then 88Kasyo Junrei might definitely be an interesting band for you.
The ninth song of the album is a bonus track. The band added this song to thank the fans for waiting for the new album. The song also seems to be a bunch of madness, the latter is something fans aren’t unfamiliar with this band, with a catchy chorus in which one word is thrown in the repetition: baka (idiot). This adds a cheerful note to an interesting album.