TK

Flowering

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

Toru Kitajima, known to his fans simply as TK, is the guitarist and vocalist of Japanese math rockers Ling Tosite Sigure, whose frenetic, angular music may best be described as “tightly controlled chaos.” On this, his debut solo album, TK transposes his main band’s basic template onto a marginally softer palette, incorporating acoustic instrumentation, increased melodic sense, and gentle, almost ambient interludes. This is in no wise a relaxing album, however. Many of the songs are played at high tempo and follow a similar pattern: complex, arpeggiated motifs on acoustic guitar and piano are layered up with rubbery basslines, tumbling drums, and fuzzy electric guitar into an often dissonant stew, from which occasionally they will all come together to burst out into a wonderfully melodic passage. TK sings throughout in a breathy, otherworldly falsetto, only losing it toward the end of “Abnormal Trick,” when he shrieks like a wounded animal under a twisted, atonal guitar solo. These songs do generally have verse-chorus structure, if not an altogether traditional one, but it is often hard to spot amidst the barrage and really takes a few listens to become apparent. Of the faster songs, “Haze” perhaps comes the closest to a traditional pop song structure, with a coherent melody all the way through. It’s the little things adding to the overall texture that, in part, make this album so special: the folky violin and electronic bleeps on “Haze”; the muffled vocals and sweeping string arrangements of single “Film a Moment,” on which TK’s Sigure bandmates help out. It’s when the album takes time to breathe that its real beauty is revealed. The hushed lullabies “White Silence” and “Fourth” are simply gorgeous, with lush pastoral melodies and tasteful string embellishments. The short, almost ambient instrumentals “Daylily” and “Sound AM 326” seem heavily influenced by Ryuichi Sakamoto. This is a wonderful, beautiful album, one of the best releases of 2012. TK’s aim seems to have been to combine beauty and ugliness, gentleness and fury. In this he has most definitely succeeded. Fans of Ling Tosite Sigure will undoubtedly love this album. The casual audience seeking an entry point into Japanese indie rock could certainly do worse than to start here, though some may be put off by the sheer density. However, this is a great stepping stone for preparing the listener to enjoy the full sonic onslaught of Sigure itself.

Track Listing

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