«Upon hearing Seven Idiots I thought I had mistakenly stumbled upon the wrong album, for this isn’t the World’s End Girlfriend from Hurtbreak Wonderland or his glorious split with Mono. It feels ridiculous drawing comparisons between the past and present for the Japanese solo artist, so instead it would be a more reasonable idea to ditch expectations altogether and enjoy Seven Idiots for what it is. But what is Seven Idiots? Mindlessly incoherent, like the blabbering of the prophesizing idiot on the side of the road? Or creatively genius and mesmerizing, perhaps even beautiful in the most bizarre of ways… like the blabbering of the prophesizing idiot on the side of the road? Seven Idiots is difficult to genre-tag, to say the least. Regardless, Seven Idiots is impressively original, and how much you value creativity and originality will ultimately determine how much you enjoy World’s End Girlfriend’s latest.
If there’s one tenet of the album that remains constant throughout, it is the disjointed nature of Seven Idiots. Admittedly, I know little about Japanese culture; but WEG’s 2010 LP only strengthens the stereotype I have that all Japanese are, in fact, video-game-playing, stimulus-craving, technology fiends. Bleeps and bloops don’t quite cut it when using onomatopoeia to describe the plethora of sounds here. From distorted saxophones and gliding string sections to electronic sampling galore, with seemingly-random piano melodies strewn throughout, it makes me wonder where Katsuhiko Maeda’s sanity went since Hurtbreak Wonderland.
The album has different stages. Seven Idiots starts out with more sampling, dense instrumentation, and heavy on the production. As the album moves on, WEG progresses to a more minimalist style, adding some nice percussion into the equation that helps to balance the insane juxtaposition of beats and melodies. Still, Maeda seems to have a hard time calming down and letting water settle a little before he jumps in for another cannonball. In effect, the songs themselves feel untidy and incomplete, like they’re never truly fleshed out.
The disjointed nature of Maeda’s Seven Idiots is both the album’s downfall and surprising high point. On one hand, the album is devoid of any continuity or coherence. It feels like a movie with awe-inspiring special effects, but with no plot to complement it (and I’m talking like, less that “Avatar” plot-line). The 1.3 hours is exhausting, trying to keep up with WEG’s jarring shifts. I can’t help but want for some semblance of the staggering atmospheric bliss of World’s End Girlfriend’s past. It’s a shame too, because the creativity and originality are wasted. With a more orchestration and composition, Seven Idiots had the chance to be a brilliant success. For instance, there are definite moments of bliss in between all the madness. Look towards “GALAXY KID 666” and “unfinished finale shed?” namely, but mesmerizing moments of magnificence are sewn throughout, as if only to say, “Look at what I could have done.” Whether it’s a distorted saxophone matching up nicely next to an unexpected guitar riff or a surprising dropout of instruments into a period of near-silence, the spine-tingling moments ofSeven Idiots are wedged pretty deeply within the jumbled jargon.
Give the guy some credit, though. Katsuhiko Maeda took an impressive risk with Seven Idiots. Starting his own record label, Virgin-Babylon, to self-release his newest, and incorporating a new recording method where he – get this – tracks complete vocal duties for each of his entire songs, then filling in the freaky and quirky instrumentation afterwards and removing the vocals, was a bold move. Seven Idiots has moments of inventive ecstasy, gratifying and seamless in their execution. It’s a shame that World’s End Girlfriend seems to have jumped the shark and went overboard in his implementation of excess creativity, because if he exhibited a little more control there’s little stopping Seven Idiots from being a post-rock powerhouse. So take a listen to what used to be a very serene, calculated artist losing his sanity. It’s just as disappointing, fun, unfulfilling and incredibly interesting, as it sounds.»
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