Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

TK from Ling Tosite Sigure – Unravel

Sonia gives us a solo project from a Japanese emo band frontman…


[Video][Website]
[6.90]

Sonia Yang: Despite the increasingly stagnant landscape of J-Rock, there are still a handful of standout acts breaking the monotony. We’ve covered one of them a few times already. Another favorite of mine is Ling Tosite Sigure, a post-hardcore trio from Saitama climbing the charts with their distinct brand of ordered chaos. However, post-hardcore is still rather niche — bassist 345 (read as “Miyoko”) and drummer Pierre Nakano are aware of this and have creative outlets outside of the band, with the former dabbling in mellow shoegaze and the latter putting together Final Fantasy-esque drum orchestras and Perfume covers (the latter featuring “anti-idol” Seiko Oomori). Then there’s frontman TK, who sticks so firmly to his guns he appends the band’s name to his solo moniker. But instead of merely copy-pasting the band’s sound, he expands upon it by opting for cleaner drums and adding keyboards and strings, ultimately creating a more accessible, more “pop” version for mainstream listeners. One of TK’s greatest strengths is contrast, and “Unravel” is an excellent example — it seamlessly transitions from a floaty whisper to a glorious, angsty climax. Not a hair is out of place in the arrangement; the keys and strings are carefully measured and the bridge guitar solo is modest but in no way lacking energy. There’s the sense that TK can cut loose because of such precise calculation, not in spite of it. The lyrics may seem a tad trite for those unfamiliar with the song’s anime tie-in, but that’s not a real flaw.
[8]

Patrick St. Michel: The anime-theme-song business is a booming niche of the Japanese music industry, similar to how commercials have become a springboard for mid-tier artists in America to jump up a level. The grip of music labels isn’t quite as strong, meaning artists (the better ones) can get away with interesting sounds and spread them on a larger level. See: the ending credits of Space Dandy. “Unravel” isn’t quite as bold — the “emo revival” wasn’t needed in Japan, because emo fans never gave up on it — but does a lot right. TK’s voice, for one, is far more urgent than most Japanese rock singers — even his scream sounds like the air is being choked out of him — while the music blurs the line between chugging rock and dramatic orchestra bait. It’s knottier than a lot of similar Japanese rock, and a welcome sound to be broadcast to anime fans across the country. 
[7]

Josh Langhoff: Well, this is all kinds of delightful, in that they’ve apparently crammed in all the musical ideas that occurred during a night of fevered anime viewing. The “all” is an illusion, though — only careful planning could create something so uncluttered out of such abundance. 
[8]

Brad Shoup: This feints like a heart-on-sleeve ballad, but something’s up: the drums are too irritated. And then boom, it’s a proggy emo crime scene. Frantic jazzy fills, clusterfuck solos, post-rock chordage… TK’s got a lot of skins to shed, and each reveal is a thrill.
[7]

Iain Mew: I love the compressed emo sympathy of the first two minutes, crashing between TK’s impressive falsetto, piano and guitar wailing like he’s an impatient friend with a bunch of awesome stuff to show you and no idea where to start. After that he doesn’t have anywhere bigger to go and doesn’t quite manage to work the elements into a coherent song, but I’m always going to be willing to forgive that for something as affirmingly overdone as that beginning.
[7]

Will Adams: Hey, that’s nice that each instrument gets its own Guitar Hero solo. The falsetto is still on beginner mode, though.
[5]

Edward Okulicz: Every discrete thirty seconds of this is some kind of good, or some kind of interesting, but it’s kind of harrowing as an actual song. It might be that the falsetto over the top of every instrument, ramping emotions up to ludicrous levels as if sentient, is a little much to take.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Breathless vocals out of female R&B struggle to project over storm clouds of strings and guitar squalls.
[7]

Megan Harrington: TK sings with such an aggressive breathiness it sounds like he’s being actively strangled. His voice limps and rasps until it perishes and suddenly he and the whole band with him are transcendent. It’s death and rebirth in a single song. 
[7]

Madeleine Lee: A storm with a vulnerable core, no matter how much it tries to shield it.
[8]

Reader average: [8.83] (6 votes)

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2 Responses to “TK from Ling Tosite Sigure – Unravel”

  1. Thank you Sonia for the introduction to Ling Tosite Sigure *__*

  2. @Maddie – glad you like them! I used to find their sound a tad bit too chaotic for my liking (during the phase when I was obsessed with soft-voice twee folk singer-songwriters) but after listening to them more I love them. TK’s solo project plays to my tastes a bit more though both are good.