Japan Suicide is a band that continually evolves by pushing their sonics to an ever crisper, wiser, and methodical place while still grasping the sounds that one might expect from the Italian group. Crisp, wise, and methodical are all words that can be used to describe their most recent effort ‘Ki‘. Although I’ve used the word ‘crisp’ twice already, don’t let this fool you to believing they’ve toned down their sprawling atmospheres, it’s merely Matt Peel’s production, which was obviously a perfect pairing for the post-punkers. Before this review gets any further, I’d like to confess my bias: I ardently believe this is Japan Suicide’s greatest work to date. Everything they’ve been striving for and have achieved with former albums has fermented into a giant ball of glossy spacious post-punk goodness, and I quite frankly love it. It will be among the top albums of 2019 if listeners and critics place down their rose-colored glasses. I should also take this time to introduce you to Japan Suicide if this is your first encounter.
Named after Yukio Mishima, the band consists of Stefano Bellerba (vocalist, guitarist), Matteo Bussotti (drummer), Matteo Luciani (bassist/synth), Leonardo Mori (keyboards/synth), and Saverio Paiella (guitarist, synth). The Terni quintet has previously released 2015’s ‘We Die In Such A Place‘ and ‘Santa Sangre‘ which was released in 2017 to rave review. Now let’s get back to it!
‘Empire‘ begins the LP on an evocative note with cascading sensuality. It’s timeless, like something you might find on “The Crow” soundtrack – a comparison that wouldn’t be too bothersome as in an interview last year it was even stated, “Robert Smith is haunting like a spectre or protecting us like the Mothra butterfly on ‘South Park’s episode.” Smith has to be casting a protection spell over Japan Suicide, especially with ‘Ki‘, no doubt about it. ‘Ki‘ is reminiscent of a lot, many things that are difficult to grasp and name but are there nonetheless: feelings, songs, books, cosmic moments that the band probably unknowingly shamanically gathered, and yet through it all you never once think of it as a universal copy-paste effort because it’s something wholly original! Alongside each track you wonder if the subsequent one could possibly be as lush in it’s heaviness, it’s aggressiveness, and ratification of contemplative messages, and with each successive song you realize that, yes, it is in fact possible. ‘Fancy Mate‘ fits perfectly between the heaviness of the first track and it’s brotherhood with the equally thoughtful next track – “I can’t even stand my shadow.” And now onto, “life and melting”… ‘Mishima‘ – echoing, haunting, also a bit catchy? ‘Dance For You‘ is a yearning slow-burn (meant in a fab sense) with merely one lyric: “I’m gonna dance for you, I’m gonna make you happy.” ‘Fury‘ asks for more reflection, and the light, airiness of the instrumentation pairs well enough with weighty lyrics such as “dreams left to rot in prison, to the last fires remained to warm an air of dust and history that screams.” Just as ‘Fury‘’s lyrics need more reflection, ‘One Day The Black Will Swallow The Red‘ is a new wave shoe-gazing masterpiece quoting Stefan Zweig. ‘Kanagawa-oki Nami-ura‘ is a brief instrumental with an expecting beat that erupts into droning passionate anger about half-way through. ‘The Devil They Know‘ grooves and twists, with suave irritation, and ‘Erlebnis‘ to put it simply, is a gorgeous love song. “We could stay together, is that enough? For a long time we did; then we stopped and sometimes did it again until it was enough, without knowing it.”
The entire record begs to be meditated over live amongst a flock of fellow meditators, or perhaps completely alone in an engrossingly dark room around three in the morning. So I highly suggest you choose the latter until you get the opportunity for the former. Happy listening…