My introduction to Japanese Music (Music Finds #15)

Music Finds (or My first Japanese Music Finds)

You might remember my post, Nostalgia for no reason, where I emotionally put words after another about songs which I felt should have a connections to nostalgia, but didn’t? Yeah, great post, check it out~

Today however, I’ll write about some semi-nostalgia, maybe even real this time, as I’ll be taking a trip down memory lane to the songs that I remember were my biggest introduction to the Japanese music scene, as well as some extra memorable ones. I will focus on when my interest really took off in my early teens, so no Kyu Sakamoto this time (sorry), as well as some honorable mentions.

If you’re curious, want to get a grip of how unreasonably much of a (to be) list-post this is, or just stumbled upon this post via Google looking for my genius advice’s on Japanese rock / Visual Kei, below is a table of content of the artists in this posts;

X-JAPAN
MUCC
MALICE MIZER
La’Cryma Christi
BEAT CRUSADERS
Luna Sea
Janne De Arc
L’Arc~en~ciel
Alice Nine (or Alice 9)
D’espairsRay
the GazettE
Plastic Tree
Stella Maria

INTRODUCTION

It was back in my early teens, and I was looking for some interesting new metal bands. Western music was good, but somehow it lacked that little extra. In a moment of (in hindsight) genius, I deiced to check out what the other side of the globe had to offer. And what I found was to hook me directly and inspires me in some way until this day, as the Japanese Rock and Metal scene really opened my eyes for another world, especially Visual Kei.
Let’s start with the more obvious one –  X(-JAPAN)

X-JAPAN

This was the seconds band I found, and how it struck me!  The stage presence, the music, the attitude, it was something so refreshing and new.
If I remember correctly, this was something like the first clip I found:

It was speed metal and sleeze, but with another attitude. I couldn’t get over this and started browsing, to slowly find out what was later to become one of my favorite bands. Below is two other songs that really made me listen to their discography, end to end.
(Just to realize for the first time that I was of hipster-nature, and preferring “the earlier stuff)

But the biggest thing to come from X for me personally, was Endless Rain. As mentioned in my 8 years with the Mockingbird, THIS solo (3:44 in the video below) was the one that made me truthfully want to learn guitar:

I first thought I’ll write something about hide here, while on the topic of X, but I’ll save that for another day..

Okey, enough of that. Let’s get another big inspiration of the board before we’ll get to the minor artists.

MUCC

So, the first band I “””found“”” in my hunt was MUCC. May be how impressed I were with X for the first months, but these guys played in another field. It was something about my angsty teen-being that draw me closer to this band at first. So here’s the grim songs that made me the 15 year old teen I once were:

So Angura Kei somehow brought me into VK.
This band offered me so much before they lost heir angst, making them one of my favorites of the time.

It may come as little to no surprise that 朽木の灯 was the first Japanese record I bought. This was the defining soundtrack to my year as an 14-15 year old, and they stayed an influence for years to come.
Today I have little knowledge of their doings, but I try to keep up once a year or so. And despite how much I admire their will to constantly change, I’me happy to see that they somewhat been doing more of their older, heavier, stuff again.

Onto, random influences! This will be a great portion of this post for the ones who are just looking for new music (that isn’t X or MUCC..) in no particular order:

Other artists:

MALICE MIZER

Theatrical music for theatrical people (also known as “that band Gackt were in at some point in time”).
I’ll make this into three sections based on their three eras – I’ll save which one is my favorite for a future post, but feel free to place your bets in the comments..

1st era – Tetsu

Malice MizerSADNESS ~I know the reason for her sadness~ 

2’nd era – GACKT

Malice Mizer - Le Ciel

Malice MizerRegret (Gackt x Kami)

3’rd era – Klaha

La’cryma Christi

For the 90’s nostalgic in you!
This first song does make me nostalgic for no reason..

La’Cryma ChristiMirai 

La’cryma Christi - Forest

BEAT CRUSADERS

Japanese pop/rock in English with a strong feel-good vibe.

GACKT

Because I have him to blame for nostalgic moments and my hipswings~

GACKT -Mizerable

GACKTBlue Lagoon
(Hipswings at 1:35)

LUNA SEA

Feel like I couldn’t miss out on some Luna Sea. I was never, and will never become anywhere near as much as a fan as K, but they had some great tunes, like:

 

Janne da Arc

Just a bit synth to your rock

Janne Da Arc救世主 メシア

 

L’arc~en~ciel

Because what would this now obvious list-post be without some heartfelt music? One of the better vocals around.

L’arc~en~cielMy Hearts Draws a Dream

Alice Nine (or Alice 9)

Not a heavy listener, but they had quite a few strong ones!

Alice NineMirror Ball

D’espairsRay

Ah, the soundtrack to open windows, friends neighbors staring and headbanging~

D’espairsRayMirros + D’espairsRayTRICKSTeR

the GazettE

Because NIL was one of the first album I bought.

the GazettEDISCHARGE

Plastic Tree

A band I thought were hardcore, but turned out to be tone of the most sentimental and nostalgic band I have ever encountered.

Plastic TreeGHOST

Plastic TreeSpica

Stella Maria

Want some ol’ school? No? Okey.. But here they are nonetheless.

Stella MariaOut of Blue

 

If you’re still hungry for more music after this giant post, check out my previous Music Finds below where I weekly present music tips from all different kinds of genres!

#14 – Fragile Voices 
#13 – Pop and Black-Metal

#12 – Nostalgia for no reason

#11 – Some J to your Rock

#10 – Lynch. the devil

#9 – Oldies but Goldies
#8 – Gotta have that ‘oumpf’

#7 – “The Visualist from OZ”

#6 – A French Danse
#5 – Post-rock
#4 – Japanese Anti-Hero
#3 – Reggae meets metal
#2 – Korean Idols?
#1 – Steampunk Sing-along

3 Responses to “My introduction to Japanese Music (Music Finds #15)

  • One the hunt for some Japanese music to listen too? Check out my latest Music Finds-post!
    https://t.co/Z8b6eiY8H2

    #jrock #visualkei

  • I’ve been hoping for something like this. Curious lil’ cat that I am.

    X-Japan

    Yes! Actually X was the first Japanese music I ever heard. Because a school-friend’s friend was crazy about them. Endless rain was the very first song I heard. Yeah… your post about your mockingbird might have brought that back. Immediately fell for that song back then, but getting hold of Japanese music for myself was tricky in a small town in the late 90’s on shall we put at very restricted budget and let’s not get into other reasons. It’s tied to one of those crazy moments of I’ve had enough of life and break free and run off with a friend on adventures. Friend, no romance involved. It’s a great song for romance though. I especially liked (still do) the piano plus line “Let me forget all of the hate, all of the sadness” as I didn’t feel hatred, just tired and trapped. Much of the Japanese music I listen to are tied to memories or people because I’ve been too much in and out of it from time to time depending on the people coming and leaving in my life.

    Endless rain is still a favourite song even if I hadn’t heard it in very long time, it did not become less so after reading your words. To be honest, I can’t hear X without thinking of you now. It was you who brought them back into my life.

    I really enjoy Sadistic Desire (why wouldn’t I?) and Kurenai too. I wish I had seen more of them back in the day, I think I’d love their music and aesthetics. But alas, I suppose there was a reason for that. It was to come later. At the right time. I’m not at all a soppy romantic. I like Silent Jealousy too, how they mix emotions in their music, it’s not just sad or happy or haunting it’s all of it at the same time. Without turning into chaos or being too much.

    And yes please write about hide some time when you feel in the mood. You can write more about X too, I wouldn’t mind one bit.

    MUCC

    Well there we go again with your influences. I took that way round and all I can say is I totally get the angst bit. That bass! I like that heavy dystopia feel even though that’s not really my usual thing.

    Thinking about my own angsty 14-15 year old self. I don’t think I was that much angst, more angry as fuck or frustrated with being invisible and somehow that lead me deep into Britpop and weird industrial music, odd mix. I busied myself in that period with new friends and as far as I can remember, angst came a bit later around 17-18 and life choices screwing up my brain going out of my mind. (That 17 yr old would have loved this.) But not even in my angst years did Japanese music come back exactly. Really strange since I was deep into other Japanese things by then. No explanation at all for that. I’d hop in a time machine and ask her but to be honest not sure I want to meet her. Except to say, you’re doing a great job and things will work out.

    Malice Mizer

    Well that is familiar. As in an earlier YT life. The Gackt era to be precise. Not heard the earlier stuff at all. I can never say no to theatrical music. Far too much into that. You really can’t go wrong with a bit of Mizer.

    And oh Regret, piano and drums. Not sure if I have heard Regret before, but regardless a pleasant piece of music. Pretty taken by the first song as well. But I’d say the third era is probably me. It’s very theatrical and musical kind of horror feel which is probably one of my (many) weaknesses. The cathedral-feel and the organ… Damn it I’m fairly predictable!
    Oh… guessing which one is more you. Umm, that is difficult. The first is very goth, the third one extremely theatrical. No idea, maybe the second era that is somewhere in between?

    La’Cryma Christi

    Oh I love them so utterly! Couldn’t stop listening to them after you recommended Forest. I guess I’m a 90’s nostalgic then. However did it come to this? But it’s so wonderful comfy and sweet kiss in candle light and let’s stay like this forever music. So my kind of music and the clothes… Oh just ooooh. Emotions, words are surplus.

    BEAT CRUSADERS

    Are just adorable fun and all round crazy. Like a Japanese love version of Nada Surf which doesn’t make this any less 90’s for me. We all need some feel-good vibes when things get stressed out. Not to mention the need for love rations, daily.

    GACKT

    I’ll like him even more now because hip swings! Sorry Gackt, never had a crush on you so I find AREKU-swings waaay more sexy. No wonder he’s miserable. ;) I enjoy his vocals and yes by all means bring a violin. More blue to fill you up… oh la la… I like the stage in Blue Lagoon. Such performance, such music, such desire…

    LUNA SEA

    Oh yes! Maybe this is a girly thing because gosh oh gosh. Can’t be having life without them. Probably not anything close to huge fan but I do find myself playing their music every now and then. I For You is so very much hug me tight and never let go song. And one of few Japanese songs that hasn’t got a memory or person attached to it… until now maybe. The things I dream after listening and reading this… woooh. Not suitable for sensitive ears.

    Janne da Arc

    Don’t you dare synth me, you’re so sweet. Quite an interesting addition, becomes a bit 80’s feel with that synth. Kind of a nice unexpected touch. And unexpected touches are the best! Can’t say I have listened to them before. I recognise their name of course but not so much that I can say I heard that song.

    L’Arc~en~Ciel

    Oh, their sound takes me back to when I started my literary adventure and pre-examination nerves for the oral part of the very first examination of the first literature course I ever took. To make the time pass as our examination was in the afternoon we sat discussing art in general and entered into the subject of music. Unusual enough for me there was one girl in the group that was very into Japanese culture we somehow ended up talking about L’Arc~en~Ciel of all bands, probably because we talked anime as well. Anyway, their music is now entwined with going back to school doing something I enjoy and realising people have become much more fun and adventurous since I was there last.

    And still I feel anime when I hear this heartfelt music. Not least so with this video and the ballet dancers. They remind me of Princess Tutu, which is an old but wonderful anime about ballet dancers; a must see for any E.T.A Hoffman enthusiast out there. Just don’t marry the cat.

    Alice Nine

    Oh yeah, I keep forgetting about them. Think I have some of theirs on my YT list though. Got to like the video with water. I’m such a sucker for water… I have no idea why I just find it utterly erotic and cleansing.

    D’espairsRay

    Of course, first there is sensual water then he reminds you of erection. Why does it always end in filthy mind?

    That’s one precious pretty moment you describe. This is not what you’d call sit still music now is it. TRICKSTeR is damn hard. No I need a synonym. And brain shhhhush no not banging. This has gone completely bad, I’ll have to stop it now.

    the GazettE

    I do get why you like this sound. And I did like such but somehow I’m more soft nowadays, I don’t know why. Had I heard this a bit earlier I’d probably like it instantly. Maybe I’m just out of sync when it comes to them. They’re not bad that’s not it. And you do have that a special bond with those first albums regardless if you move on from it or not. Even so, I enjoyed hearing this kind of sound again.

    Plastic Tree

    They’re so interesting! Not at all what you expect. I’m so glad you shared them, they’re a true delight. I think you already know, but Spica is just, so pretty with that vocal longing. Ghost is also something different, in search for a better word but I can’t find any.

    Stella Maria

    Wait, can you get too much old school? Not in my world. Heavenly…
    I have no idea when I got so 90’s nostalgic either. It’s not like I want to go back there except for experiencing the releases of some films and music. I have a theory about life repeating itself and if so this is such a cure. Obviously, I like this kind of music and apparently that is funny for some reason I don’t get. Like a true punk-heart, never mind the bullshit spewed by common people with nothing better to do.

    What a heartfelt gift of music! I don’t want this love story to end…
    I’ll keep playing the songs endlessly.

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