Suilen

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Tokyo-based duo Suilen follow on more or less from where band member Maki Fujii's previous outfit, Soft Ballet, left off. That group, which took its name from its members' two favorite artists, Soft Cell…
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Tokyo-based duo Suilen follow on more or less from where band member Maki Fujii's previous outfit, Soft Ballet, left off. That group, which took its name from its members' two favorite artists, Soft Cell and Spandau Ballet, updated the early-'80s synth pop sound with the tougher electronic beats of industrial music and harsh keyboard stabs of Italian house music. Comprised of multi-instrumentalist Fujii and vocalist Shakuyaku, Suilen do at least slow things down a bit for the post-millennial age, the group's atmospheric sound owing as much to '90s/early-'00s trip-hop as '80s synth pop, its image more sullen goth than flamboyant New Romanticic.

Suilen (Japanese for water lily) formed in 2001, still two years before Soft Ballet split for the second -- and final -- time. While a member of Soft Ballet, Fujii had also dabbled with other projects outside the band, playing in Schaft, with Buck-Tick's Hisashi Imai, releasing a solo album on Polydor, and forming the short-lived She-Shell. But it was to Suilen that he turned his attentions after Soft Ballet's dissolution, recruiting the distinctive-looking vocalist/songwriter Shakuyaku, who sings in both Japanese and English, to front the group. Shakuyaku was not a newcomer to the music business -- at the time of joining she was trying to get her solo career off the ground. It was not until 2004 that the band played their first live shows, in Yokohama, but since then Suilen have kept their live dates to a minimum, preferring to concentrate on recording. The duo's debut album, Neo Haramu, was released in 2007 on Tearbridge Productions, the same subsidiary of Avex Trax that also handles the Go! Team in Japan. Second album Hita Hita followed in 2008. A third album, Licca No Ne, was issued in 2009.