«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.»
Ο Pieter J Macmillan από το επιδραστικό Drowned In Sound ‘φιλοδώρησε’ με ένα 8άρι το «Seven Idiots» από World’s End Girlfriend.
«Wow. Buckle up. A bare-bones description of Seven Idiots would make mention of this being a new collection of songs by Katsuhiko Maeda, a Japanese avant-garde guitarist known for his eclectic and experimental approach to composition. This description would do absolutely no justice at all to a record that leaves you with the same breathlessness and stupidly dazed grin that you’d get after riding a top of the range roller-coaster.
The music of World’s End Girlfriend has been rather hard to get hold of legitimately in Europe up until now. Mono fans may recognise the name from the collaboration Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain, but the sombre strings and restrained moods of that record in no way prepare you for the sensory overload, the sense of joy and the speed of Seven Idiots.
Imagine a really talented avant-garde sound-artist: the kind of gifted sonic chin-stroker that would be on the cover of Wire. Now imagine someone holds a gun to his/her head and says ‘Ok, what you do is great and all but now I want you to produce a record that people will actually enjoy, maybe even dance to. If I don’t enjoy myself listening to your record I will shoot you.’ Seven Idiots would meet our hypothetical gunman’s needs perfectly; in fact he’d probably turn himself in meekly to the police with a beaming smile on his face.
This is all due to the fact that Seven Idiots manages that most difficult of balancing acts: it sounds both adventurous (musically challenging, risk-taking and above all different) and at the same time accessible. There are a hell of a lot of ideas thrown quickly at the listener (wow! Listen to that guitar riff! And now it’s glitching… and there’s a synth melody! Wait is that slap-bass? It’s gone now… here’s that riff again!) If the music is challenging, then the challenge is simply to keep up.
Admittedly is is over long – at 78 minutes you suspect that Maeda is trying to cram as much sonic goodness as he possibly can onto a single CD – and only about 85 per cent of it lives up to the standards described above. The first nine tracks fly by in a buzz of constant movement, energy and excitement but Seven Idiots flags a tad in its final section. Track 11, ‘Der Spiegel Im Spiegel Im Spiegel’, is four minutes of saxophone noodling: exactly the kind of aimless, beatless self-indulgence that Maeda avoids elsewhere. Track 12, ‘The Offering Inferno’, jars even more: a gentle piano melody is obliterated and overwhelmed by Merzbow-esque noise which doesn’t fit either the mood or the sound of the rest of the record. Although the final track rounds everything off nicely it’s hard not to seeSeven Idiots as a superb record that slightly overstays its welcome towards the end.
However, nothing should detract from the fact that there is still about an hour’s exhilarating, joyful, experimental and yet accessible music on here that should be treasured by a wide range of fans from different genres. If you feel like a lot of instrumental rock recently has been poisoned by a lack of ideas and innovation then Seven Idiots is just the antidote you need. The first time I heard this record, with its snatches of different instruments, riffs and guitars and synths and who-knows-what all bouncing off each other at frightening speed, the image that came to mind was that of a giant alien spacecraft orbiting the earth. The alien captain decides to sample what is playing on the airwaves of earth and presses a button: instantly the best of everything playing on all the radio stations in the world gets beamed straight into its cockpit, mashed together and formed into a continuous stream of sonic ecstasy. Listening to Seven Idiots is as close as you’re going to get to being that alien captain. Enjoy it.»
Από το beardrock.com, ακολουθεί η παρακάτω κατατοπιστική συνέντευξη του Maeda Katuhiko, aka World’s End Girlfriend:
BR. So, if we could start off with an introduction of what WEG is, directed at someone who has never heard of you or your music before?
It’s a question I always have problems answering. Many factors mingle together and when I try to explain about a certain piece of music, it doesn’t mean it applies to another, so it becomes confusing. When I write the music I don’t really consider the genre, but would agree that when people listen to the music, some would identify it to a genre such as post-rock, electronica or classical because I understand that there are elements of my music that apply to those areas.
BR. As a solo musician, whose music sounds more like that of a a full band when it comes to writing, how to you create your pieces?
When I choose a musician whose instrument I want in the music, I choose a particular musician because I feel that that musician suits that piece and their style can express what I want to create in music, rather than have another player or a sample fill that part. It’s more like choosing a tone. I maintain control over everything in that I am aware of how each sound should sound and overall, when writing the piece, I already have in mind how it will sound constructively and how it will be orchestrated.
BR. Are those musician friends and acquaintances, or is it more of a professional affair with session musicians?
Well, it really depends. If I know someone that could create the sound that I am looking for, then I would ask him or her, but otherwise I would go to a studio musician. There are even times that I would go to someone who is not a professional and would still come out with a sound I was looking for.
BR. Being a solo musician who has collaborated with musicians such as Piana and Mono in the past, how does the creative and writing process differ to working alone and did you find that there was more or less freedom and responsibility?
Well, for instance the collaboration with Mono, they are already a band. The have their set-up with guitars, bass, drums and I brought in the other factors such as violin and cello, so my contribution is somewhat limited. However, that limitation is what made it interesting; how much I could add to the music and how much I could change it. So obviously it was a different experience, but very fun.
BR. That’s really cool. I can see how that would be a refreshing change. You said you find it hard to classify yourself in a genre, but would you say there are any artists that influence and/or inspire you? Or even outside of the “music world”. Is there something, or someone that inspires you to do what you do?
I think that even the listener could hear that I’m influenced by current artists such as Aphex Twin and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, other than that, the Spanish film director, Víctor Erice and the early works of Truman Capote have both affected the way I look at things and what I want to express through my music, amongst others. I could go on forever…
BR. Speaking now about the Air Doll (空気人形) soundtrack, how did this differ in writing a normal WEG album. I mean, I presume that in writing a soundtrack, there is a “purpose”, in the sense that it was written for something, rather than the wider creative spectrum when writing usually?
Yeah, it’s totally different, because like you said, it’s purpose is for a film so the music is only a part of what is being expressed. If you listen to the soundtrack, it’s a lot more simple. And it should be, because it’s lacking the script and the visuals. But as a release it still has to be a complete form of expression in itself.
BR. Is it something you’d like to venture into more? And did you find it opened up your music to a different or broader audience?
If there’s a good script, and a good opportunity, it would be something to consider, but I’ve not really decided one way or the other. Well, I think if someone listened to the soundtrack and liked it and then listened to some of my original work they might feel a little different. (laughs)
BR. You’ve recently signed to Erased Tapes in Europe. What made you pick them?
One of the reasons is that they have quite different artists to my music on their roster. They tend to have quite clean, mild artists and by joining, I can feel a bit unique and it makes it interesting. Also, Robert is someone I feel I could trust.
BR. And to round up, what do you have planned in the future?
If there’s a good opportunity to tour Europe, I’m very open to it. I think I will just be happy if I can continue to make music, without compromising my sound. I just hope that people are interested in my music.
Ένα γλυκόπικρο έπος από τον ταλαντούχο World’s End Girlfriend (Katsuhiko Maeda):
Ο World’s End Girlfriend είναι ένας Γιαπωνέζος συνθέτης, η τέχνη του οποίου χαρακτηρίζεται από τις σύνθετες ηχητικές δομές που συνδυάζονται με όμορφες μελωδίες, ενώ ο ήχος του κυμαίνεται από το glitch μέχρι το τζαζ-ροκ & την μοντέρνα κλασική!
Ο ιδρυτής της Erased Tapes, Robert Raths, σε μια συνέντευξη στο Dazed & Confused περιγράφει με τον γλαφυρότερο τρόπο το τι συμβαίνει στο ντεμπούτο «Seven Idiots» του WEG: ‘Το Seven Idiots είναι σαν να ακούς μια δίνη σε μια μαύρη τρύπα που απορροφά όλους τους καλλιτέχνες μας και τους ξερνά σαν κάποιο είδος ποπ μουσικής από το μέλλον. Είναι τρελό!‘