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Album Review

On L.S.T., his second album, Japanese wunderkind Shugo Tokumaru sets the controls straight for the heart of the gearwork. His electro-acoustic micro-miniatures are joyous contraptions, layers and textures slathered on with careful abandon, melodies separated between a dizzying array of guitars, pianos, chimes, whistles, glockenspiels, and stop-time rhythms. In large part, despite their eccentricities, Tokumaru's compositions are surprisingly linear. But songs like "Kiiro" are filled with such plentiful and dynamic scene changes that songs scan as sound poems, more akin to Cornelius, even if they don't use much of his cut-up compositional technique. The result is an accessible album — give or take the Japanese lyrics — that is equal parts playful and sophisticated. Thanks to the constant instrumentation changes, the songs stay fresh, retaining a bedroom pop vibe despite their utterly obsessive arrangements. For English listeners, the Japanese lyrics only highlight the disc's otherworldly qualities, which owe — language barrier aside — to Tokumaru himself, as gifted a self-producer as any bedroom (literal or conceptual) has ever seen.

Biography

Born: May, 1980 in Tokyo, Japan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Shugo Tokumaru began recording his sweet and eccentric lo-fi indie pop songs — songs that nod to artists like Plamo, Lullatone, and PWRFL Power — in the early 2000s. He recorded a ten-track demo CD-R, Fragment, in 2003. The album was never officially released, but it did manage to grab the attention of the U.S. label Music Related, which released Tokumaru's second full-length, Night Piece, in 2004. Tokumaru went on to release a couple more albums over the course of the next few years;...
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L.S.T., Shugo Tokumaru
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