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LP Review: Seiko Oomori – Alchemy

Often credited as being the ‘Godmother of Anti-Idol’ Seiko Oomori (大森靖子, Oomori Seiko) has been forging a unique musical path since 2007. Released via French label Specific Recordings, Alchemy charts a career that has evolved from a punky beginning to a sound more rooted in electronica and this compilation on double coloured LP provides a fine introduction to her wonderfully eclectic world.

Armed only with an acoustic guitar ZETTAI KANOJO is a wordy opener that finds Oomori firing lyrics with machine-gun rapidity as if the enfant terrible of the idol scene. Slightly dizzying, it’s a song that gently wraps its tendrils around the listener and pulls you into the darkest recesses of Oomori’s world. The calm before the storm, its rather sedate nature lulls us into a false sense of security which only makes the effervescent explosion that is Kyuru Kyuru even more powerful. In a move that echoes throughout Alchemy, the sonic shift that constantly occurs is quite startling and while this could create a disjointed feel there’s a dark lyricism that threads this collection together and turns it into a unified whole.

Running in chronological order it’s a delight to hear how Seiko Oomori has evolved over these 19 songs with the early tracks in particular displaying a youthful enthusiasm. In modern parlance JUSTadICE would be termed an “indie banger”; a high-octane, amphetamine charged slab of music that makes easy bedfellows of rap and rock and wraps them up in a delicious melody. Likewise, 17/ Not a child 17 is a bright burst of bubblegum pop but, like a calm ocean, there’s a feeling of discombobulation beneath the waves. It’s an interesting tension of opposites, a light and shade, which makes for an intriguing, and infinitely interesting listen.

Alchemy is a collection of songs that finds Seiko Oomori deconstructing Japanese popular culture and reassembling it in her own image with Doguma Maguma being a musical collage that contains elements of Nintendocore and melds them to traditional instrumentation. This album is the musical equivalent of looking through a kaleidoscope; each song has its own unique feel and ensures this anthology fractures in several directions and the following ZOC Laboratory could easily out rock Babymetal. It parodies the Kawaii metal movement, but it’s an authentic interpretation and, with pounding drums and shredding guitars, it’s the stuff that headbangers dreams are made of.

A dreamy cascade of electronics Midnight SEIJUN ISEI KOUYUU has an otherworldly quality, like an evil hypnotists watch it casts a magic spell which is abruptly broken by the arrival of GIRL’S GIRL. A high voltage slab of techno it’s a vehicle that Seiko Oomori uses to rail against a patriarchal society and, not wasting a single second, it speeds past like a bullet train. The final three tracks are culled from Oomori’s 2020 critically acclaimed album Kintsugi. Again they display an evolution and evidence of an artist moving forward, stripped bare and slightly lo-fi they reveal another facet of Oomori’s sound and offer a tantalising glimpse of where her music may venture in future.

Shapeshifting and chameleon-like Alchemy is a musical journey that stops at some unexpected destinations. However, in whichever guise Seiko Oomori chooses to appear Alchemy remains a delightful selection of ear candy.

Alchemy is released via Specific Recordings on 19th April.

Tracklisting:

01. 絶対彼女 (ZETTAI KANOJO)
02. きゅるきゅる (Kyuru Kyuru)
03. JUSTadICE
04. 生Kill the time 4 you、、 (Life Kill the time 4 you.. )
05. 子供じゃないもん17 (Not a child 17)
06. ドグマ·マグマ (Doguma Maguma)
07. ZOC実験室 (ZOC Laboratory)
08. 絶対絶望絶好調 (ZETTAI ZETSUBOU ZEKKOUCHOU)
09. マジックミラー (Magic Mirror)
10. draw (A) drow
11. SHINPIN
12. ノスタルジックJ-pop (Nostalgic J-pop)
13. TOKYO BLACK HOLE
14. ミッドナイト清純異性交遊 (Midnight SEIJUN ISEI KOUYUU )
15. GIRL’S GIRL
16. 死神 (Angel of Death)
17. えちえちDELETE (Echi Echi DELETE)
18. NIGHT ON THE PLANET -Broken World-
19. 真っ赤に染まったクリスマス (Red Christmas)

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