Album Review: TEKE::TEKE – Shirushi

The fade-in: to me it’s exciting. You don’t know what’s coming. It’s a moment of anticipation and trepidation. It reveals itself slowly, unfolding like a flower before bursting in to your world with its many possibilities. Shirushi does not disappoint, as opener “Kala Kala” unfolds into a beautiful flower, slowly encircling you seductively with its oriental flower garden flute and wah wah guitar, before blasting into orbit with fuzz riffs and pop tunes like a Ventures twang, like a Kill Bill soundtrack song, like a buzzing bee, like Pizzicato 5 in a karaoke bar. It is both glorious and fun…and it doesn’t stop there. The excitement continues apace with “Yoru Ni” swerving the fine line between silly and sexy, funny and clever.

TEKE::TEKE are based in Montreal, Canada, but several band members, including singer Maya Kuroki are Japanese, and it shows with their twangy 60’s obsessive pop bops, and cramming vibrant colour into every lilt, even when they slow things right down. “Dobugawa”, with its tremelo guitar and bossa rhythm, is a 60’s vision of a bright and colourful future, all plastic and perfect, where there is nothing really bad and everything has a delightful edge of childlike wonder. It paints a poster paint rainbow of primary colours, shimmering and seductive.

“Barbara” is such fun, with its slightly off kilter trumpets, its frenetic guitars…it’s almost Cardiacs territory! In other hands this could get terribly annoying, but here it’s just so delightful you find yourself grinning from ear to ear. Even when they get ‘serious’ “Kizashi” has a bright, colourful air of boozy blearyness that it’s hard to not be seduced by. It’s like a very slow, sedate roller coaster, if you can imagine such a thing, taking you ever further and further up into a bright sky full of fluffy clouds, where you freefall on to soft marshmallows. “Kaminari” follows this, perfectly showcasing the female lead vocal of Maya Kuroki, before “Sarabande” once again seduces with its rolling playfulness, and, once again, using a fade-in to good effect. It’s not unlike a Yoshimi period Flaming Lips outtake, but with more grandeur, and more stately, like a polka dot carnival procession, echoed vocals fading off into the landscape around you.

“Meikyu” is frenetic and insistent, whilst still retaining the carnival is in full swing vibe. It is dramatic and Eastern sounding but with those 60’s two step beats, like B52’s in Mesopotamia jamming with Pizzicato 5, before blasting into space in a totally joyful explosion of sound, before coming back down to earth again with “Tekagami” which brings to mind Meiko Kaji with its searing ballad vocal, strings and twang guitar, like Ennio Morricone, which builds into a beautiful, slow swirling vortex of loveliness, which wraps itself around you like a well loved and familiar comfort blanket, lulling you into its world before ending with a string flourish…all too soon.

I can imagine this lot being such a fun band to see live, and I’m pretty sure I will at the first opportunity. If they are anywhere near as vibrant and colourful as their music (and they certainly look it judging by their publicity photo) then they will be a sight to behold performing these bright epics.

Shirushi is out now on vinyl, CD and digital download – order via Bandcamp.

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Review by Andrew Wood

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