IMPO…

On Thursday I will be driving down to Boston to spend the weekend at Anime Boston, specifically with the primary intention of attending girugamesh’s concert and panels. I’ve been prepping for it by listening to their albums and tuning into their Ustream events online. Pretty foolproof.

In anticipation of the founders of Visual Kei fusion genre Anime OP <3’s Teen Angst girugamesh‘s long-awaited US appearance, and following on the heels of their January release (first original album since ‘o9’s toeheaded NOW), entitled GO, I’ve been ruminating on the black-clad host boys an awful lot lately. So before I hit up Boston and see them live and then have everyone blame this on post-concert bias, I wanted to address some things about girugamesh and Visual Kei Today.

Over the past 2 or 3 years, there’s been a lot of griping about what girugamesh has been and will be doing stylistically. As far back as 2008, they began entering their re-debut of adolescent, agonized expressionist experimentation that stirred up some mixed feelings from fans. What started out as white-noise steadily developed into doubtfulness about where the band was moving with its sound and image as they began incorporating elements of mixing, pop and electronica into their previously hardcore shredder scene. This developed into outright concern with releases as early as MUSIC, and certainly increased over time when NOW disappointed in its offerings. Now, with the release of b-average sub-standard singles such as COLOR, doubt and concern is turning to dissatisfaction and, potentially, dissension.

I’ll admit, I have not been remotely hesitant to express my opinions and concerns for the future. Although it’s not usually my wont to do so, I may have, of late, been (in regards to girugamesh, among others) unselfconsciously harsh and, possibly, somewhat insensitive to the quivering, vulnerable feelings of COLOR-loving fangirls.

Although I don’t feel the need to explain myself or my views, as I believe vehemently in that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and certainly I believe that my own blog ought to be allowed to be the vomitorium of my own personal opinions, with or without explanation, but that being said, I have an immense respect for, and value highly, the qualities of objectivity and fairness. Generally I think that if people have something negative, critical, or hateful to say, they should save everyone’s time by not saying it at all. I believe that any criticism should not be spoken unless it has at least a somewhat intellectual argument to back it. If you have an intellectual argument, you can say whatever you want as long as you can express your opinion in a respectful, un-trollish way. Any criticisms that I may have toward girugamesh, or any other band or media figure, would never see the light of internet unless they were spoken from a sense of constructive debate and, from the heart of a Visualist and follower of the band, hopefulness for their continued success and talent.

We should know better by now than to judge something without really giving it a chance, but that being said, sometimes some things are just not a good fit when you first discover them. If you judge or criticize something and then do a 180 and start to admire or respect what you previously bashed, I personally don’t believe in that type of “hypocrisy” at all. When I was younger, I used to ardently despise hardcore music, screamo, death-metal, heavy-metal, hard-rock. Even if I talked bull about it when I was 12, that was just because it hadn’t found me yet. When the correct circumstances came into place, I became quite passionate about that kind of music.

I’ve had a lot of 180’s over the past 5 or 10 years, and through them I’ve (mostly) learned not to judge things or people without a good reason. And if there is a good reason to judge it, and I feel like judging it, it doesn’t make sense to waste energy judging something I don’t even like, so it’s better to make peace with it in yourself and just let it phase right out of your reality. This is why I believe a “dislike” option on Youtube is a pointless idea, and why people’s negative comments look intensely foolish. If you don’t like something, just walk away from it.

For everything you like, there is someone who hates it. For everything you hate, there is someone who loves it. I don’t care how anonymous the internet is, when you bash something, it hurts someone who takes pleasure from the something in question. It’s always easier to find a creative way to say something negative about something you dislike– criticism is by default easier than critique.

I’ve read some reviews on blogs and websites that really buy into negativity. People can write the way they want, and if I don’t like their blogs, I just choose not to read them. However, I do have a hard time accepting critics who have difficulty differentiating between “good music” and “music that I think is good”. Obviously all critics are doing is expressing an arbitrary opinion. All they are saying is “I think this is good,” or “I think this is bad,”, and in the end the only way we can truly judge its quality is by the way it makes us feel. When I listen to music that I think is really superb, it’s struck a certain note in my soul, it makes me feel something. Of course there’s quality of technical content– lyrical composition, programming, skill of the musicians. But I’ve heard some really good musicians play some really boring music and in the end it made me realize how, for me at least, technical quality is just a backseat factor, not a deciding one.

 I don’t think “good music” is a flawless recording played by great musicians. “Good music” is any music that speaks to you, that makes you feel like you could take on the world– regardless of how cheesy or obnoxious it may be technically.

Although mostly all bloggers and critics (professional and amateur alike) post their reviews and critiques as if the contents are Fact, every critic should be forced to have IMPO… tattooed to their forehead for whenever they start dishing.

Musical tolerance is really difficult for a lot of people. I used to only want to hear the music I liked and everybody else could go to hell–and take their mixed tapes with them. But, over the past year or two especially, I’ve developed a lot of tolerance for other types of music. This helps to make you not look like an idiot. And now that I’m a little more open-minded, I can tolerate listening to my sister’s rap music or a friend’s Top 40 station in the car without my soul shriveling up into some cold slimy dead thing in the recesses of my being. Even if I wouldn’t choose to listen to any of that music, I can still hear it from time to time and be able to think, that was really good. I enjoyed that.

Tolerance and acceptance is great and all when you’re wandering around like some kind of Ghandi letting people play their entire Muse discography for you, but sometimes the harshest judgment I see passed is by fans, on the bands they love most. Amidst the irony this makes sense, because obviously you love a band for its most prominent sound, and when the band goes to change that sound, it’s like they’re shattering your hopes and dreams. Stop waving your pitchforks– I know all about this. To be perfectly honest, although I appreciate GACKT’s music and projects now, I wish that on the day I get to see him perform live, that it was his 2004 self. Part of my soul curled up and died when I realized I would never hear or see the Sixth Day Seventh Night tour. Ever. That’s a regret I hope they carve on my headstone.

But people change. People need to change. Look back on a photograph or creative work from a year or two ago and you’ll see how much you have changed reflected in it, even if just a little. Now think what it must be like to have fans all over the world watching your every move. It’s much harder to change from that place, I think. It has to take a lot of courage and trust– trust and belief in your followers that they will support you in doing what needs to be done. If this is the GACKT that he needs to be, now that he is older, wiser, more insane, then I can accept, admire, and appreciate that. And know that I own that particular DVD, so it’s all good really.

I know it seems blasphemous that girugamesh goes from being one of the most awesome, angsty, screamy groups in Jrock today, to being a mainstream pop-rock group. However, if you listen to albums such as NOW and GO, they’re not really bad quality, or even worse than girugamesh or 13’s Reborn, they’re just different. They have an inherently different quality. Their music isn’t as dark, but it’s still pretty heavy. They may have added some rap and electronica elements– that’s popular in Visual Kei right now, better learn to accept it or stop sounding surprised whenever you pick up a new release and find that there’s a whole ton of sounds mixed into each track and, no, those aren’t guitar effects.

I’m not going to stop expressing dissatisfaction with a new release if I find reason to be dissatisfied, and I’m not saying that I won’t review an album I disliked just for the sake of having a blog about rainbow-puking unicorns. It’s important to be tolerant and appreciative, yes, but it’s equally as important to be transparent and honest, and be able to call it when a band fucks up. We’re not drooling adolescent fangirls who will “love” any old single just because one of the band-members has a shirtless gravure up on Photobucket. But GO got me wondering if giru‘s new stuff was really that bad, or if it’s just a case of Visualist stubbornness.

girugamesh Prays for Japan

“If you find yourself feel lonely, and you’re crying in your heart, remember you are not alone …”

On March 11th when the 9.0 magnitude quake hit the Tohoku region of Japan, girugamesh was in Germany where they had a scheduled live in Berlin. In a situation where they were really helpless to assist their people and nation, according to a message released to fans early on Wednesday the 13th,  girugamesh did the only thing they could do, and the only thing most of us can still do: pray for Japan. On the 13th, they made their sentiments heard by Visualists worldwide with the release of charity single, pray.

~To the fans ~
On the day the Northeast Japan Earthquake happened, girugamesh was on tour in Europe. We continued the tour despite being very distraught, but we were encouraged by the support and loving words of all our fans. In a situation where all we could do was pray, we put our thoughts into lyrics and returned to Japan.

‎ There we saw with our own eyes the situation, and started thinking about what we could do to help. As musicians, what could we do? So we wrote the song “pray.” The lyrics are about the “praying” we did in Europe and the “hopes” we had after returning to Japan. We want to give hope to as many people as possible and to let the world know about the reality of the situation.

‎That’s what this song is about. So let’s all hold hands, become one and help out! Pray for Japan!

girugamesh

Available for download only via iTunes Store Japan and U.S., and all profits from sales will be donated to areas affected by the earthquake through the “JACK IN THE BOX Donation Project”. 

Pray was released in both a Japanese version and an English version, which, as I see it, seems like a not-so-symbolic expression of the sense of unity mankind needs, both within their own nations, and in relation to all the countries around the globe. It’s certainly not just the Japanese sending home, or sending out, prayers– and the bi-lingual set struck me as an acknowledgment and appreciation of that.

Although I already make a point of purchasing all of my music, I also make a point of not trying to force my own beliefs on those who stand by acquiring their tracks by other means. However, right now I will say this: however it is that you usually go about getting your track-fix, I will put out the sincere request that Visualists step up and purchase Pray as a way of both supporting girugamesh‘s beliefs and sentiments, and as a donation to disaster-relief in Japan.

[iTunes Store U.S.]
pray http://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/id431235821
pray (English ver.) http://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/id431236302

Also, today, April 15th girugamesh will make an appearance on USTREAM, for a special program they will be holding called “pray for Japan”. The program will start at 10:30 PM (Japanese Standard Time), and can be accessed via the links below:

http://www.myspace.com/syncmusicjapan
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nexus-aid

[“pray for Japan” by girugamesh]
Airing time: 2011/04/15 from 22:30 (JST)
URL: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nexus-aid
For Twitter Users: Official Program Hashtag: #girugamesh_pray

Tomorrow girugamesh will make another appearance online via their program hosted by MusicJapanPlus+, “girugamesh TV”.

[girugamesh TV]
Airing time: 2011/04/16 from 21:00 (JST)
Airing Place: MJP (musicJAPANplus) top page (http://www.musicjapanplus.jp/)
Secondary: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/girugamesh-tv
※The airing at 21:00 will be live

If you have a Twitter account, you can participate in the program by using the hash tag “#girugameshTV”. You can follow MusicJapan+’s official English twitter here: http://twitter.com/musicJAPANplus. If everything goes according to plan, I will be tuned in and commenting, and you can connect with me by following @gacktpause, or via the sidebar icon.

Pray

If you find yourself feel lonely And you’re crying in your heart
Hold my hand I’ll be on your side And carry on

When you look upon the sky I wonder if you cry
All I do is pray and kneel Just tell me what you feel
So a wish goes over the seas and the stars though you can’t see
It is true that only love can make the world go around

You know a little piece of light might seem so weak but never lose your hope
Now I got the flood of lights here in my hands

If you find yourself feel lonely And you’re crying in your heart
Remember you are not alone You and me There’s something in between
And I bring your smile back for you Don’t forget I’m here with you
Hold my hand I’ll be on your side And carry on

I wonder how long will it take Till the freezing rain to stop
I’ve got nothing I can give But at least the starry sky

I can only pray and wish for you And then my days are passing by
All the thoughts can’t go nowhere float in the air

If you are lost in the silence On the night when you can’t sleep
You don’t know what you should believe Then I want you to listen to this song
Never let your hand off on mine So that I can keep you warm
Hold my hand I’ll be on your side And carry on

Now, the world becomes one

All the voice and sounds are fading away Can you still hear what I say
But I know everything is gonna be alright ’Cause we know love

If you find yourself feel lonely And you’re crying in your heart
Remember you are not alone ’Cause you and me There’s something in between
And I bring your smile back for you Don’t forget I’m here with you
Hold my hand I’ll be on your side And carry on

Pray was written to be something of a musical beacon of hope and encouragement, and the sentiment runs strong not only in the lyrics, but in the overall feel of the piece as well. And as the lyrics go,

If you are lost in the silence On the night when you can’t sleep
You don’t know what you should believe Then I want you to listen to this song

I think I can say that I will.

pray (English ver.) lyrics: Satoshi translation: Kota music: girugamesh /
information and  lyrics – girugamesh official Facebook

Ustream event information- MusicJapan+

giru goes global

Although we’re only halfway through February, I’m already impressed by the amount of overseas activity I’ve seen announced. Compared to the typical moaning and groaning of global Visualists moping about the lack of Jrock in their local livehouses, 2011 is already proving itself to be a promising year for international J-metal moshing.

First we heard of D setting out to vamp up Europe and one of our own hulking southern states with their worldwide debut. Then MIYAVI announced another European tour to promote the release of album WHAT’S MY NAME. The cherry on top was almost headline news that exist trace will be making an appearance at Seattle’s SakuraCon. Almost. But not quite.

On February 5th, controversial cherry-boys girugamesh turned a few Visualist realities (including mine) upside down with the release of not only European tour dates for their 2o11 world tour, but also the mind-blowing confirmation that they will, in fact, be performing at the East Coast’s own Anime Boston (April 22-24). I have no more mind left to be blown. Or so I thought. giru is very, very slowly leaking at least a few more US dates, beginning by tacking a Pennsylvania show on right after they blow up Boston. The boys will share the Starlight Ballroom (Philadelphia, PA) stage with Acey Slade & The Dark Party, who opened for D’espairsRay at their Webster Hall live last year

Although more dates are still in doubt, so far things are looking up for at least a modest US tour- major cities might stand to hold their breath, as I wouldn’t be surprised to see giru hit up the usual hot-spots. But remember, that’s simply my assumption, and if they don’t announce other dates/cities, I refuse to be held responsible for any sense of false hope instilled in your tender Visualist heart.

girugamesh WORLD TOUR 2011 “Here we go!!”

EUROPE DATES
03.05 Tochka / Moscow, Russia
03.06 GlavClub / St.Petersburg, Russia
03.08 Nosturi / Helsinki, Finland
03.11 Columbia Club / Berlin, Germany SOLD OUT!
03.12 Diesel / Budapest, Hungary
03.13 Backstage / Munich, Germany SOLD OUT!
03.15 La Laiterie / Strassbourg, France
03.16 Le Trabendo / Paris, France
03.18 O2 Academy Islington / London, UK
03.19 Zeche / Bochum, Germany SOLD OUT!

USA DATES
04.22 Anime Boston 2011 / Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA

04.25 Starlight Ballroom / Philadelphia, PA
With Acey Slade & The Dark Party
Tickets

04.26 Crash Mansion / New York, NY *NEW*
With….Acey Slade & The Dark Party? Presumably.
Tickets

04.27 Jaxxroxx / Springfield, VA *NEW*
With Acey Slade & The Dark Party
Tickets

JAPAN DATES
06.04 Hiroshima Namiki Junction
06.06 Nagoya Electric Lady Land
06.08 Osaka umeda AKASO
06.10 Fukuoka DRUM Be-1
06.18 Sendai Darwin

GRAND FINAL
6.26 Zepp Tokyo

Honestly, the reason it took so long for me to post the announcement was because every time I tried to articulate the news, it came out something like awuhetralksjfvkjalhwe7cbytnle98i3784tGIRUGAMESHjhdgflajhg. Considering giru has long been on my Top 5 Bands to See Live Before I Die list, I was (and still am) incredibly stoked to hear that they will at least be shredding through the US to shred a few stages. Although I originally had plans in place to head out to Seattle for exist trace, fortunately I saw the girugamesh announcement before plane tickets were acquired and cons were reg’ed, and was able to do a 180 turn around and head for Boston. Am psyched for the show, and def hoping for a balanced mix of old and new tracks…More on the latter coming soon, so, as always, keep reading SG.

Get ready for gladiator sandals, The Perm, and the Satoshi-boogie…

I hope they leave the gladiator sandals at home.

I admit, I’ve entered a sort of state of denial about the lack of orange-highlighted dates on my sidebar calendar.

I like to flatter myself and primp my shameless vanity by assuming that lulls in the activity of Secret Garden are duly noted out there. Although I’m daily shelving a hankering to be on here spewing my snotty opinions about the noxious new releases of Jrock Today, likely setting out on the road to becoming some kind of embittered critic, while squirreling away my secret adoration of the more Kpoppian ventures of girugamesh, I hope to be able to post more regularly again eventually. In the meantime, I will continue to ask for your patience.

I notice that I’m not the only one who has been lagging in their post count lately, though. In fact, most of the blogs I read regularly (you know who you are) seem to be kind of slow these days. I remember those sweet, sweet, broke days of living on a whim and blogging sun-up to sun-down without a care in the world other than being totally cash-strapped. But remember this, kids, make good use of your blissful free time and become magnanimous forerunners of the future before the shackles of the 9-5 routine enslave you and stunt your entrepreneurial developments. What these other slaves to the system tell us is partly true, you get used to it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stop being  frustrating. Ah, who am I kidding. The life of rampant hedonism is obviously the one for me. I’ll start a terrible Visual Kei band and do nothing but wine, women, and sleep, all in varying degrees of debauchery.

Now that we have my future sorted out, shall I spend the next thirty minutes of our time (so precious, according to the previous paragraphs) talking about something else equally inane and patronizing while I try and remember what I started this post to talk about? Nah, just kidding, I’m not that depraved yet.

This news apparently popped up over the weekend (proof that the world continues spinning even when I’m out of the loop. How dare they.), and although I admit it’s taking some time to sink in to the remains of my mushy brain, melted to the consistency of chunky 3-day-old applesauce zombifying slowly on the kitchen counter by too little sleep and too much caffeine too many days in a row, I’m pretty pumped to be able to announce this at last.

girugamesh WORLD TOUR Confirmed!!

2011.3.05 Tochka
Moscow, Russia

2011.3.06 GlavClub
St.Petersburg, Russia

2011.3.08 Nosturi
Helsinki, Finland

2011.3.11 Columbia Club
Berlin, Germany

2011.3.12 Diesel
Budapest, Hungary

2011.3.13 Backstage
Munich, Germany

2011.3.15 La Laiterie
Strassbourg, France

2011.3.16 TBA
Paris, France

2011.3.18 O2 Acedemy Islington
London, UK

2011.3.19 Zeche
Bochum, Germany

The band has apparently taken a leaf out of D’espa‘s book and is reaching out to fans for suggestions regarding their, y’know, tracklist for the tour. Hurry–together we can make a stand against having to ruin our current record by accidentally hearing Color live…

All snark sheathed for the time being, this is actually news that, once it fully establishes itself in my gelatin-filled skull, is worth getting psyched over. They are one of the bands that I would really stretch to see…and although Europe is a bit too much of a stretch (especially at risk of showing up to a disco-ball and Satoshi’s shuffle-boogie), ShuU started rumors on their official Facebook that more information (cough dates and locations cough?) is to follow. Holla, US? I think we’re ready for Color.

Not only that, but they have also announced a brand new album. The question I want you to answer, Visualists, is that of whether the album actually still runs a chance of stirring some response by returning to their raucous roots, or striking a new chord by actually going out on the limb of innovation and, god forbid, inspired creativity. This positive anticipation of giru‘s actions (recently so disturbing) is edged, we all know, by the woolen itch of doubt; the fear that it could really be rock-bottom. The maker or breaker. Takers?

 

girugamesh bounces back

It would seem that it’s about that time again. Summer is coming to a close, bringing with it the papery chill of Autumn. With the turnover from summer, the new round of fall tours, events, and releases start to come tumbling down from the skies of Visual Kei like leaves on a windy October day.

One of those bands whose seasonal turn-around we have most been anticipating, is the extremely versatile, ever-changing and experimenting bad-boy roundup girugamesh. They recently released their new look, and a teaser for the new single, titled Inochi no Ki (Tree of Life), and appropriately depicted by a…er..dead tree. Let’s take a look at their new digs:

Wow, well, first of all, I have to say Nii and his hats keep improving. That over-sized sock he was wearing on his head for about, what? 8 singles? has finally transformed into a classy fedora. Those are in, by the way. Honestly, Satoshi’s outfits don’t change that much. Although he’s cut-off mid-torso here, I’d bet my last penny he’s wearing black ski— wait. Aren’t there too many blonds in this picture?

As for the song… Like Nii’s hobo headwear, giru‘s sound continues to develop and advance. I’m extremely pleased to hear that they’ve gone back to their hardcore sound. Those rap elements are still there, which shows Ryo’s experimental nature is still running rampant. However, it’s good to hear Satoshi’s voice getting that edge back, as I thought he was going soft for a while there. Although, I thought it was something other than ‘luck’ that he was saying. Just Engrish, I guess?

All in all, I think it’s inspiring to see that, although we had a brief lapse with the release of mediocre COLOR, the boys are bouncing back with more of their original sound. I think it was right to stand by girugamesh and continue supporting their creative expression. I can’t wait for Inochi no Ki to land, and I hope the b-sides are just as good as the title track.

Admit it. You can’t deny the resemblance.

A Matter of Life & Death

This post was inspired and instigated entirely by a comment left by J.D. a while ago (my sincere apologies for taking a long time to respond). When I sat down to compose my reply, I realized it was turning into a post unto itself. Since this is a conversation I feel it is important to have, this seemed like a golden opportunity to get it on the table.

J.D. asks:

I just want to know that if its very hard for VK bands (acts) to stand out in Japan’s music industry. The only reason why I am asking this is because many of the VK bands (acts) are starting to tone down their style (or at least those I know of).

Examples:
Girugamesh (toned down toooo much, where’s their old self?)
SID (they look like an idol group now, yet they are still classified as VK?)
the GazettE (SHIVER veered them slightly off-course from their original style)
Angelo (almost same situation as Giru, and the fact that they were a chip of PIERROT makes me more worried)
D’espairsRay (not really much now, considering the fact that Kishi saved them recently)
MUCC (they are going pop, OMG)

Has the “Parental Advisory” label taken its toll on them in any way? Just curious.

gacktpause responds:

It’s certainly true that many of the Visual Kei bands, most noticeably because they are primarily those that have been labeled hardcore or ultimately dark, that we respect and follow have been taking a major turn…not necessarily for the better. It seemed to be starting out as “experimentation” and “new horizons”, and has now plummeted into something of a disaster of identity crisis expressed in sound, and some musical massacre by…by whom, we can’t say. Is it the record label? The composers? The band itself?

I think the short answer to J.D.’s question is yes, it is difficult for Visual Kei bands to stand out. I imagine, especially as the industry has become extremely inundated with bands all struggling to get noticed and gain recognition with few of them actually expressing any particular innovation or individuality, that it’s becoming more and more difficult to get recognized. Veteran bands have to stay afloat, while new bands have to somehow work their way out from under the heavy shadows of Luna Sea, XJapan, D’espairsRay,  and the PSC crew that hit at the right moment and, basically, got lucky by being the right people in the right place at the right time.

Many of the bands have, yes, softened and toned down their sound. My own personal theory, based simply on observances and hypothesis, is that the main way that bands are able to reach a wider audience now is through outlets such as anime and video games (a huge advertising scheme in Japan). However, I think that as they begin working into this mainstream field, they’re taking the tack of conforming and doing what everyone expects in the hopes they can reach out to the people who drop loads of money on ARASHI and other such idol-groups and boy-bands. I believe that, with groups such as SID, Kra, and girugamesh, they’re more or less morphing into staple boy-bands, leaving behind the hardcore (giru, at least) and genuine music they started out with. My guess is it is primarily commercially driven, as many of these artists have proven through trial and error (or lack thereof) that they are sincere, passionate musicians who are channeling their creativity and innovative visions through their work.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard this talk about “Visual Kei is dead”, but I, at least, have been hearing it a lot – too much- this year. First of all, it has a bad feeling to me. Of course you could say it has a bad feeling because Visual Kei is the axis upon which the bulk of my life turns. However, the reason it has such a bad feeling is primarily guided (although I won’t deny the other fact either) by a sense of fans and faith, and something missing in the equation.

The past two years haven’t been the best for Visual Kei, this is true. Exceptional releases have been spotty, “changes in sound” have been, at times, cringeworthy; bands have struggled, split up, flourished and failed. It has been, for lack of better words, a bit of a mess. And then some time back, that interview containing “insider’s insights” on the Visual Kei industry hit the web (of which we will not go into detail here. I have yet to feel the need to even humor that article, and its response, with a comment.) and suddenly this phrase surfaced: “Visual Kei is dead”.

Now, I will say this. I am not asserting my opinion as if it is fact. Truly, your guess is as good as mine. These are my own suppositions, opinions, and beliefs. I do not have any magical insider’s insights into the industry. I only have insights into the industry of fandom– and given that as long as there is fandom, no thing can ever die or disappear, that would seem to be the most relevant in this situation anyway.

Visual Kei will only die when it dies for you. Like believing in the Easter Bunny, or being a huge fan of The Rolling Stones or disco, the genre will only “be dead” when your own lack of faith kills it. Many people laugh at Western followers of certain branches of Japanese fashion, such as Lolita, saying “Nobody wears Lolita in Japan anymore, you stupid whities.” You may not see hoards of Lolita at every Shinujuku street corner anymore, sure, but that does not mean “Lolita is dead”. There are many incredible and passionate followers of Lolita in Japan and elsewhere, and many successful designers that, somehow, flourish making nothing but Lolita clothing.

In the same way, I would say in many respects Visual Kei is no longer “the next big thing”. Visual Kei has found its niche and become, on some level, its own facet of the mainstream rock scene. It is no longer particularly shocking or unbelievable. It, like punk music or legwarmers, is no longer what will make the earth shake and fire rain from the heavens. This does not mean Visual Kei is dead.

Visual Kei is still expanding and developing. It has begun busting down borders and taking acts overseas, including and expanding its international audience. Many acts are struggling or producing mediocre music– is this something exclusive to Visual Kei? Many acts are also flourishing and rapidly uplifting their work to higher standards of excellence. Incredible albums and singles have hit shelves, and we are still on the edge of our chairs, waiting for the next releases from artists we continue to respect and recognize for their dedication, talent, and innovation.

girugamesh released some duds, and The GazettE hit us hard with b-average SHIVER. Of course that immediately necessitates the revelation that Visual Kei is dead. Of course it does. I perceive tension in the world of Visual Kei as the bands and artists work hard to figure out how they can fulfill both commercial and creative callings. As Visualists do we throw in our towels, roll up our posters, and sell our CD collections in some fit of indifference? Or do we crank that one exquisite Visual Kei single that came out this past year and head down memory lane, remembering what it felt like to be showered by Zero’s spit, to be embraced by the aura of 雅ーMIYAVI’s sincere words in the painfully hot club? Remembering the choking thrill of hearing about GACKT’s European debut, still clinging to those fragments of inspiration you drew from seeing those lives this summer…holding onto those living, breathing experiences, can you really tell me that Visual Kei is dead?

girugamesh: Between tours (yes!) and Twitter (no!), no time for writing good singles

Close on the tracks of their latest single, COLOR, girugamesh has just set out on a 14-date nationwide tour that has sold out every show from its onset on July 2nd to its conclusion on August 12th. It seems like this popularity is a fan-wide clamoring for more, and the band is answering the call of Japanese Visualists with a second tour to kick off in October. 8 more dates have been announced, starting in Sendai with a finale in Yokohama. The giru gang will also be making an appearance at JACK IN THE BOX this year, alongside other big-name VK bands such as Dead End, SADS, LM.C, and  MUCC.

girugamesh Autumn Tour 2010 Dates

2010.10.2(sat)
Sendai HooK

OPEN 17:30 / START 18:00

2010.10.5(tue)
Sapporo KRAPS HALL

OPEN 18:00 / START 18:30

2010.10.8(fri)
Nigata CLUB JUNK BOX

OPEN 18:00 / START 18:30

2010.10.10(sun)
Hiroshima CAVE BE

OPEN 17:30 / START 18:00

2010.10.11(mon)
Fukuoka Beat Station

OPEN 17:30 / START 18:00

2010.10.13(wed)
Osaka umeda AKASO

OPEN 17:30 / START 18:30

2010.10.15(fri)
Nagoya Electric Lady Land

OPEN 18:00 / START 18:30

2010.10.23(sat)
Yokohama Bay Hall

OPEN 17:00 / START 18:00

Source: Official website