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  -  Asobi Seksu - Fluorescence (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=2522592)

Sean Rizzo 11/23/11 07:06 AM

Asobi Seksu - Fluorescence
 
Asobi Seksu - Fluorescence
Record Label: Polyvinyl
Release Date: February 14, 2011


Taking the first step into the indie-pop world can be an extremely intimidating thing. The genre is what amounts to a bizarro-world for many of the AP.net users who listen to the standard emo rock, pop-punk, or indie folk fare that never seems to go out of style around here. As it ranges from unconventional harmonies to downright weird vocal techniques to beautiful but inaccessible instrumentation and production, it's not hard for a foreigner looking to expand their musical palate to drown in the sea from an acute lack of catchy hooks and complete ignorance of the musically safer places to dive in. Furthermore, the pretentious nature of a now stereotyped sect of indie-pop listeners has caused even the most brave of the masses to flee in panic lest they be judged in accordance to their ignorance. In essence, indie-pop as well as the other genre subsets we would consider hipsterisms has caused a lot of coulrophobia merely because it is different. With a little psychological therapy, indie-pop becomes much more entertaining and hospitable despite its metamorphic quirkiness. But what to prescribe? For me, Asobi Seksu was one of the bands that got me started (the other being Mew). While Citrus is arguably the most accessible album in their catalogue, their latest album, Fluorescence, is crucial in progressing from the genre's initiatory stages.

It seems that with each release, Asobi Seksu explores the full potential of a different asset, and in opposition to their earlier albums, they have found a home for their percussion talents. While the guitar work in Citrus and Yuki Chikudate's bright and timid vocals in Hush had carried the brunt of the melodic interest-grabbing, this time it is captured with a catchy drum beat. In this, Fluorescence proves its nature as the mediator between a somewhat snobbish genre and the short attention spans of the accessibility-driven listeners. "Perfectly Crystal" is the perfect example of this thematic emphasis. The bass is firmly rooted in the percussion, giving it extra depth and flavor, while the sugary guitars, tambourines, and synthesizer create a light and airy environment for the drums to happily bounce around in. Even Chikudate's vocals could be considered as part of the background, only to be considered melodically since the lyrics are sometimes difficult to make out. This is where things begin to become less accessible. Thanks to the shoegaze influence, the forest of catchy melodies is cleared away to reveal a bare but beautiful sky; often unappreciated by those whose taste lacks acquisition. Another welcome addition is the more common occurrence of guitarist James Hanna's vocals, which expand Asobi Seksu's sound into a more psychedelic arena since his range and intonation are treated with different songwriting and production alterations than Chikudate's.

This album will undoubtedly take time to sink in for many of you who decide to try it. I have discovered that diving into a new genre or severely divergent artist from one's usual cup of tea is much like diving into a pool for the first time; shocking at first, but much more palpable and enjoyable with time. Sometimes it can take months of consistent revisiting as your taste slowly reshapes itself before a particular artist finally fits in the mold. This album is a great start for anyone who leans on the more accessible sides of ambient/indie music, like myself.

Recommended If You LikeMew, Blonde Redhead, myriad, Spaces, psychedelic-tinged pop

External LinksMyspace, Facebook

Henry Ferreira 11/23/11 07:23 AM

Very great review, man. I'll take a shot!

Jeremy Aaron 11/23/11 08:29 AM

Understanding one's audience is important, I'll grant that, but I feel like this is precariously close to talking at them rather than to them. The characterization of the community, while accurate to some extent, is far from universal; the AP indie contingent is strong and growing. The "you might not like this immediately, but that's OK, keep trying, and some day you might have awesome taste like me" tone is kind of insulting-- who wants to be told about their lack of sophistication?-- as well as counter-productive. Why not present something you like as something that's natural to like rather than something that's out-of-reach for the majority. Finally, I'm sort of confounded by the notion of this record as a sort of "my first indie album." Sheesh, I fear we may lose Wonder Years fans for good. I'd conject that if anyone checks this out and doesn't care for it, it's not for their lack of hipness, but rather that it's not anything to get excited about in the first place.

Steve Alcala 11/23/11 08:45 AM

Don't think he meant to insult, sounds just matter of fact to me. A lot of AP users do prefer those genres and styles of music. And the final paragraph sounded more personal if anything.

Sean Rizzo 11/23/11 08:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeremy Aaron (Post 98388252)
Understanding one's audience is important, I'll grant that, but I feel like this is precariously close to talking at them rather than to them. The characterization of the community, while accurate to some extent, is far from universal; the AP indie contingent is strong and growing.

I'd wager that my characterization applies to a rather sizable chunk of users based on what I've seen discussion-wise, since people talk about what they're interested in.

Quote:

The "you might not like this immediately, but that's OK, keep trying, and some day you might have awesome taste like me" tone is kind of insulting-- who wants to be told about their lack of sophistication?-- as well as counter-productive.
This totally misjudged my intentions, and I have no idea how you decided that I was elitist in the first place. It sounds to me like you jumped to conclusions based on an imagined tone.

Quote:

Why not present something you like as something that's natural to like rather than something that's out-of-reach for the majority.
Not everything comes naturally. Expanding one's taste parameters to include new genres sometimes takes time and repeated exposure.

Quote:

I'd conject that if anyone checks this out and doesn't care for it, it's not for their lack of hipness, but rather that it's not anything to get excited about in the first place.
I'm concerned with people not checking it out because of their lack of "hipness" (whatever that means, though I'm supposing that it means ignorance about the genre), not if they just plain don't like it.

Hidden In NJ 11/23/11 10:58 AM

Again, good review Sean, will check it out, I want to get more into this kind of music.

Jeremy Aaron 11/23/11 11:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sean Rizzo (Post 98388972)
I'd wager that my characterization applies to a rather sizable chunk of users based on what I've seen discussion-wise, since people talk about what they're interested in.

This totally misjudged my intentions, and I have no idea how you decided that I was elitist in the first place. It sounds to me like you jumped to conclusions based on an imagined tone.

Not everything comes naturally. Expanding one's taste parameters to include new genres sometimes takes time and repeated exposure.

I'm concerned with people not checking it out because of their lack of "hipness" (whatever that means, though I'm supposing that it means ignorance about the genre), not if they just plain don't like it.

"Imagined" tone?

Quote:

Thanks to the shoegaze influence, the forest of catchy melodies is cleared away to reveal a bare but beautiful sky; often unappreciated by those whose taste lacks acquisition.

Given that you like this, how does that not paint yourself as "one of superior taste"? Likewise,

Quote:

This album will undoubtedly take time to sink in for many of you.

is a rather presumptuous statement. How does that not portray the readership as unwashed masses who are perhaps unready to appreciate this?

Listen, I'm all about diverse coverage on AP. I think it's something we've worked hard to foster. I just thought we had progressed past the point of having to introduce anything other than three-chord pop-punk as alien or erudite.

Sean Rizzo 11/23/11 11:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeremy Aaron (Post 98393802)
"Imagined" tone?

Yes, and now my suspicions have been confirmed.

Quote:

Given that you like this, how does that not paint yourself as "one of superior taste"? Likewise,
That statement says nothing about superiority. It's at best inferred, and that's only after accepting the rather nebulous notion that narrow and wide palates can be scaled in terms of superiority.

Quote:

is a rather presumptuous statement. How does that not portray the readership as unwashed masses who are perhaps unready to appreciate this?
I won't deny that it does, but to paint what I said as if it was a blanket statement is a complete misrepresentation. I used the word "many" instead of "all" for a reason. All I know is that it will happen, and has, based on Hidden in NJ's response. The frequency of that is, again, up for debate.

Quote:

Listen, I'm all about diverse coverage on AP. I think it's something we've worked hard to foster. I just thought we had progressed past the point of having to introduce anything other than three-chord pop-punk as alien or erudite.
As much as I'd like to believe this, I don't think it's happened yet.

Jeremy Aaron 11/23/11 11:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sean Rizzo (Post 98394272)
Yes, and now my suspicions have been confirmed.

That statement says nothing about superiority. It's at best inferred, and that's only after accepting the rather nebulous notion that narrow and wide palates can be scaled in terms of superiority.

I won't deny that it does, but to paint what I said as if it was a blanket statement is a complete misrepresentation. I used the word "many" instead of "all" for a reason. All I know is that it will happen, and has, based on Hidden in NJ's response. The frequency of that is, again, up for debate.

As much as I'd like to believe this, I don't think it's happened yet.

Well, carry on then. I'll continue, apparently misguidedly, to respect the maturity of the community at large.

Tilde 11/24/11 04:47 AM

This review just made you seem utterly pretentious.

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My thoughts exactly.

AdamChildress 11/24/11 07:34 AM

Lovely album, glad it got reviewed on here.

Rob McWilliams 11/24/11 05:46 PM

In before more Sean hate

SmeezyBeezy 11/25/11 01:27 PM

Hot Asian singer, yesss.

Broden Terry 11/27/11 01:15 AM

I do adore this album. I'm pleased it got a review, because it deserves it.