You probs don’t need to be reminded that Japanese rock outfit RADWIMPS has been crushing it over the last 12 months. The one year anniversary of Your Name is three days away, which means we are also approaching the same mark for the band’s lauded soundtrack to the film. They were already big, but that film’s massive popularity pushed them even further into the spotlight.
The group’s lead singer Yojiro Noda has been having a solid 2017 himself. Besides RADWIMPS’ continued shine, he starred in a drama and has seen his solo project, illion, gain traction too. The electronic-leaning project has been around since 2012, and Noda has put out two solid albums over that time, but it feels like this summer has seen illion really get more attention. A lot of that is thanks to the song “Banka” from the film (it’s always a film!) Tokyo Ghoul, which has been performing well. The video for the fragile song came out this week, check it out below.
In general, RADWIMPS make music optimal for stadiums; big, driving rockers careening towards hooks designed to get people screaming words back at the band. They have softer moments, but even their ballads are biggie-sized. “Banka,” meanwhile, highlights what Noda does so well as illion. It’s a spacious song, one opening with slow-burning staples such as piano and string sections, all hints at something that eventually builds to a big release. Yet “Banka” is mostly interested in breaking things down further. After that first flourish, the song turns into a deconstructed electronic number, full of glitches that at times sound close to flying off the rails. The closest it comes to release is via huge, pounding drum machine hits.
Ultimately, for all its skittery electronics and space, the song is centered around Noda’s voice, which adds the emotion and humanity to the number. That quality is on display in his second album, P.Y.L, which originally came out last year but received a deluxe edition reissue this summer (featuring “Banka”). Good timing, it’s a delicate set of songs, finding Noda somewhere between sentimental ballad singer and IDM tinkerer, the end result sounding wonky around the edges (especially within the context of J-pop) but ultimately anchored by his voice. Watch the video for “Water Lilly” below.
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