YFCz, New Musical White-Meat

I have an idea, which I may or may not feel like taking down in writing and forwarding to GACKT: Like, maybe he should drop the whole band thing and found the GACKT Orchestra. Then he can have as many band members as he wants on stage and nobody will think anything of it.

I like to think of myself as an adaptable soul, and I’m pretty open to change. But I’m also pretty comfortable with the 5-member band formula, now that Visual Kei has pushed me out of the standard 4-man comfort-zone and into the whole almost-as-cool-as-it-sounds “dueling-guitars” thing.

But to have 7 band members just hurts my brain. And dear lord, what exactly does that coat on the chair symbolize? Surely not the potential addition of an eighth member? Seriously, this is not A-PeaceAnd I still can’t figure out for the life of me what Jon’s actual, serious purpose is in this group. I know all the fangirls who harbor tender teenage dreams of going to Japan and starting Visual Kei bands will hate me forever for saying it, but I’m honest-to-gawd just waiting for a logical explanation for his presence in this band.

I can’t figure out if GACKT is just working the edge, or trolling us.

Not able to scrape enough interest off the bottom of my boot to watch the PV for The End of the Day, after the redundant lyrics pushed me away initially, I will say that I’m not entirely disinterested in All My Love. The song sounds decent enough on its own. That being said, I’m not sure I’m tempted enough to pre-order a copy of YFCz’s new album, destined to drop early 2012.  Title is TBA at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll be something relating to the waning phase of a 24-hour segment of time.

GACKT will also be releasing a single (solo? As far as I can tell) on the same date (2.22.12), titled Until The Last Day. Still haven’t heard Graffiti, but my Jrock senses tingled as I passed the Christmas tree earlier, and I’m pretty confident it’s in my future, all thanks to myself Santa of course.

Pipe Up To Down PIPA

As I’m setting out on the process of creating this post, on my personal blog, cursor hovering over the “add media” button, it really hits me. I’ve avoided getting interested in politics for years for one reason: part of me clings onto a vain hope that humanity isn’t so bad after all. Politics follow that vain hope like thugs follow a woman into a dark alley, where they beat that hope and leave it for dead. People are riddled with ignorance. There’s a certain point where you just can’t ignore that fact anymore.

I’ve been pushing that line lately. Pushing against it pretty hard. I live in a pretty democratic and open-minded state that fights for great causes, pulls down a lot of bad ones, and makes the crunch for things like gay marriage, anti-nuclear culture, and green community. It’s difficult to avoid an activist streak (maybe it’s something in the water?)– but more than having to climb the ladder of generalized labels such as “humanist” or “activist” or “social warrior”, I think in the end it comes down to the fact that, whether you’re a hippie trying to camp your way through to Occupy victories, or a whale-saver trying to squash the ignorance-driven sealife slaughter, or a Visualist who can’t yet figure out how they fit in, you’re a human. And we’re all stuck on this planet together. And when it comes down to that pivotal moment when your rights, especially, in this moment, for an American citizen, are threatened, one has to realize that there’s a greater good that has to be upheld. It’s not enough to sit around Tweeting about what you had for breakfast, is it?

Tweet about the fact that you might not have “share media” buttons, or even blogs, or maybe even Twitter as we know it, in the not-so-far-off future. Tweet about it before our “democratic nation”, and especially in this case its collective Internet, becomes a dystopian, free-speech-free web.

Let’s not be foolish flies that get caught in such a web.

Not to mention fundamental personal privacy and freedom of speech that is being threatened by the potential passing of the IP Protection Act and the SOPA bill that are being discussed in congress today, there’s a lot that’s threatened in the not-so-fine print. I hardly need to sing the praises of the internet to you– if you’re reading this, then it’s already obvious to you what’s at stake.

Congress is considering two well-intentioned but deeply flawed bills, the PROTECT-IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

As written, they would betray more than a decade of US policy and advocacy of Internet freedom by establishing a censorship system using the same domain blacklisting technologies pioneered by China and Iran. -tumblr

For a basic breakdown, check out this video from Fight For The Future, which spells it out in layman’s terms.

In one article someone remarked how if you want a global issue side to all of this– think of every time you thank the heavens the [US] internet isn’t policed like it is in countries like China and Iran; the US is a global leader, and we don’t want PIPA to come in and set a precedent for other countries to instate similar policies.

If you disagree with the PIPA bill, which I’m confident you do, then do some research. Sign tumblr’s petition. Check out some of these sites. Get some signatures out to congress and tell them not to pass this blatant attack on our basic constitutional rights.

Change.org 

Fight For The Future

White House

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D’espa Members Get Busy

Good news for me any D’espairsRay followers out there who may have yet to fill the void left by the great veteran VK group that, due to extremely unfortunate circumstances, disbanded this year. Although I heard in passing a few weeks ago that guitarist karyu and bassist ZERO were added to the Angelo lineup** and that Hizumi was designing kawaii romping tigers to bounce cheerfully atop Japanese website banners (is this true, or was that a weird dream?), personally I find the most intriguing new venture by former D’espa members to be THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S.

Brand new band consisting of drummer Tsukasa, bassist ZERO, vocalist Ricky (formerly of Dasein– “You’ll be in my heart….yes you’ll be in my heart…”, ok, I’ll stop.), and guitarists kazuya and SHUN., both formerly of bands I’ve never heard of, the names of which were too case-sensitive to remember*.

Well gee, ZERO, I guess karyu’s invite got misplaced.

THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S (is it just me, or are they getting more and more out-there with the band names? Thank goodness they didn’t ditch the apostrophe-trend) will make their debut appearance on December 1st at Shibuya O-EAST’s stylish wave GENERATION live, performing alongside Penicillin, Daizystripper and LM.C.

* FANATIC◇CRISIS and Lastlip

** Not changing the post, but this was a brain-slip. ZERO wasn’t also added to the Angelo lineup, the other new member was former-Vidoll guitarist, Giru. Thanks, Kaxxina, whose below comment made me realize I should switch to decaf.

OHP

GACKT writes on the walls for 40th single.

Although a lot of griping goes down during genre downtime, once we actually get to the other side of the drought– once we can begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, I think there’s something to be said for being denied the very thing we most desire. Think about it, if every single day saw some ground-breaking single or album dropping, not only would you be completely cash-strapped, but you would also be a spoiled, jaded punk. Admit it.

Sometimes a little downtime can be good for us. It’s probably great for the artists who aren’t releasing, too. It means that when they finally release something, it has actually been crafted with care, and by the time it finds its way into our hands, our reception is more appreciative. So even though I whined along with the best of you, I find that now that there’s a smattering of awesome releases to look forward to as the cool weather starts waxing, I’m really just, I don’t know, ready for them. After months of lying in a grumpy heap on the floor playing 2008’s singles over and over again, the 4th quarter’s offerings come at the perfect time. I am ready to love them.

It would seem that GACKT is stepping it up and showering us with his generous goodwill by keeping a steady stream of releases lined up for the turning of the seasons. Still reeling from the impeccable swag of Episode.0, and still tentatively prodding September’s YFCz first single, we’re now also presented with the news that November 30th will lengthen Christmas lists worldwide with the addition of GACKT’s 40th single, Graffiti.

40 is a nice, round number. And if 40 isn’t an impressive musical-releases benchmark, I just don’t know what is. I remain continuously impressed by GACKT’s ability to sustain his commitment to quality throughout the creation and production of so much music, and I look forward to seeing his career continue on in the future with more excellent and thought-provoking material.

Is it just me reading into things too much, or does it seem like perhaps GACKT is making a slight aesthetic switch-up here? Somehow titles such as Episode.0 and Graffiti feel like era-ic titles. It’s different, and I like it. They feel urban and modern, which for some reason comes as a breath of fresh air after a long stream of poetic titles like The End of Silence, Lost Angels, and Flower.

 Although I hate to keep going on and on about it in such a shallow way, I also really hope the single brings a new hairstyle….But by golly I need this to not be it:

Graffiti will be released on November 30th, 2011, in the traditional 2 editions. Limited edition from CDJapan includes bonus DVD, etc, etc, and First Press editions include a poster. The single’s title-TBA B-side will be featured as a character song for the high school-club anime series SKET DANCE.

For Future Reference

Holla, blogsphere, ‘sup? Can you believe it’s already the second week of August?

I know my summer is def flying by– it’s been a mixed bag so far, really. You know how as you age you kind of compartmentalize segments of time? For example, “the winter of indentured slave labor”, “the summer of The Perm”, and so on… Not to say it hasn’t been a good summer, because it has certainly had its high points, but I would best describe it as “the summer of taking one for the team”. There’s been a lot of dealing with it, and doing what needs to be done. I feel like when you live life under these conditions, you can become ruled by what if‘s and but‘s and eventually‘s. As always during these challenging points in life, there’s always a moment when I realize that I haven’t been listening to nearly enough music.

I think it’s the curse of humanity that we want the answers to all our problems to be complicated, esoteric riddles that we have to spend years of wallowing to unravel. Friends often tell me, “I just wish there was a simple solution!” And actually, 9 times out of 10 there is a simple solution. Someday, I hope, we’ll become OK with that.

In any case, tomorrow I’m catching a train to Philadelphia, where I’ll be able to unwind and just focus on having a great time. I hope the rest of you are having a brilliant summer….And for any of you who are also dealing with it (as well as those of you who are emotionally stable enough not to be in a perpetual state of crisis and self-reflection) this summer and have no idea what to do with the approaching threat of fall, I have some good news.

Although I’ve probably mentioned them on here once or twice (max), edgy, energetic rock group ONE OK ROCK is actually up there among some of my favorite Jrock bands. In the past although I knew of them and knew I enjoyed their music, I didn’t start following them religiously until a couple of months ago. One day they just kinda rose up in my awareness like a phoenix from the ashes of my own jadedness. The urge to whine about a lack of decent new releases was knocked right out of me by the PV for their new track Re:make.

Re:make was released July 20th as part of the double A-side, Re:make/NO SCARED, but the PV was actually revealed exclusively on OOR‘s official facebook. Although I’ll post a 30sec preview here, I insist that anyone who hasn’t seen the PV yet head over and check it out for a mind-blowing experience. You don’t need a facebook account to watch it, but most people have those nowadays, right? It’s one of those things, like cell-phones, that for some reason life has made virtually impossible (see what I did there?) for us not to have, but which “some people” leave turned-off and stuck in some dark corner of reality for as long as society will allow.

Re:make PV Link

Once you’re all done being devastated by the crisp innovation in PV production and only recorded example of the usefulness of facebook, there’s more.

ONE OK ROCK announced that they will be releasing a studio album on October 5th, titled Zankyou Reference. Their 5th original album, it will include the typical quantity of previously released material, including Re:make and NO SCARED. So glad I picked up that single. (Just kidding. Really, I am.)

For the benefit of those of you more geographically blessed than some of us, starting in November ONE OK ROCK will be setting out on a new tour, finishing with two performances at Yokohama Arena on January 21st and 22nd 2012. Check their OHP for details, or google it, or do whatever it is you do when I lack the energetic resources necessary in posting the relevant information.

Zankyou Reference
Released Date: 2011/10/05
[First Press Limited Edition] 3,150Yen (tax in)
[Regular Edition] 2,800Yen (tax in)

To pre-order: Zankyo Reference [Limited Edition] / ONE OK ROCK

Fina-effing-lly A Bunraku Preview

Finally the official preview for one of the Jrock community’s most-anticipated releases, the Hollywood debut of Japanese media’s HRH GACKT: Guy Moshe’s Bunraku. I live in envy of everyone who had the opportunity to see the premier at the INTL film festival in Toronto last year, where GACKT was in kimono’ed attendance.

All in all the movie looks pretty sweet. The catch-lines weren’t bad, although it was something of a pointless trailer given that GACKT had no lines. We’ve all seen him in acting roles by now (Moon Child, Furinkazan, etc), but it will be interesting to see him surrounded by whities, acting in a “Hollywood” production, all up in the mainstream and everything. You go, GACKT.

Bunraku is destined for release on Sept 1st (VOD), and September 30th (theatrical release). I hope it’s shown nationally.

A mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett) and an ardent young Japanese warrior Yoshi (Gackt) both arrive in a town that has been terrorized by outrageous and virulent criminals. Each is obsessed with his separate mission, and guided by the wisdom of The Bartender (Woody Harrelson) at the Horseless Horseman Saloon, the two eventually join forces to bring down the corrupt and contemptuous reign of Nicola (Ron Perlman), the awesomely evil “woodcutter” and his lady Alexandra (Demi Moore), a femme fatale with a secret past. This classic tale is re-vitalized and re-imagined in an entirely fresh visual context, set in a unique world that mixes skewed reality with shadow-play fantasy, a place where even the landscape can betray you. Heroes triumph here only because the force of their will transforms and transcends both space and time. The world of BUNRAKU is past and present, fantasy and reality, Samurai and Western all combined. Like SIN CITY and 300, it gives classic conflict a whole new graphically supercharged dynamic. Resonating through a wide range of cultures and showcasing a mind-blowing array of martial arts disciplines, BUNRAKU is a fresh arena for breathtaking fight action.

*Synopsis taken from the video info.

REMEMBER THE URGE Peripherals

I’m skipping the whole New Look comment-fest this time around because I think by now everyone’s seen The GazettE‘s new look and probably guessed what my opinion is about it anyway. To summarize: everyone looks the same. Any enhanced coolness of the mug-shots this time around is thanks to cool lighting and enigmatic, indirect poses (way to not look at the camera, Ruki. I never do either.), as opposed to innovative new outfits/styling. I don’t really mind either way if they wear crazy outfits or choose the subdued a-typical Visual Kei monochrome uniform of choice, so no complaints in that area.

Moving along, today is the REMEMBER THE URGE (to write all in caps? To smash your electric guitar? To start tearing off your clothes?) EDITION of GazettE Overwhelms The World With More Mediocre Releases Week.

Optical Impression....

 Tracklist:*

01 – REMEMBER THE URGE
02 – CLEVER MONKEY

*Plus DVD containing PV and making-of footage.

  Even if I rarely end up actually listening to the music anymore, I still find myself drawn to The GazettE‘s sense of aesthetics. The albums and singles always have cutting-edge styling, and the imagery is ironically pretty sweet and different from a lot of the stuff out there. Looks like they’re drawing on a similar general concept to their last release, Vortex, by using the same ambiguous-paint-splatter concept, this time in black. Not sure who picked out the kid’s camo trunks, but it’s cool man.

And Auditory...

 Tracklist:

01 – REMEMBER THE URGE
02 – CLEVER MONKEY
03 – Chiyou

I actually really appreciate how they tied the two covers together. In the first cover, the kid is smashing the guitar, and it’s like the guitar is spewing this deluge of black…blood? Paint? Oil? And in the second cover, the guitar’s blood? Paint? Oil? is raining down on the character in a black shower. Sick.

As always, I wish I could approach the preview with as much enthusiasm. Perhaps I should go into being an amateur art-critic and give up on music altogether (you were thinking it– don’t deny it). Actually, I’m choosing to withhold judgment until the PV is released in full….But trust me, you will be hearing from me when it is.