The 69 of 2014

Review

by Leela McMullen, chi.yow, Aki, Amy, posted January 1, 2015

AlbumsSingles

umbrella – Knockin’

One of the few Kyoto-based bands making rounds about the country, umbrella may not be particularly active in new releases, however they make up for this by delivering solid music when they do get around to it. One such release, Knocking… is a single that displays the band’s steady and unique style of rock.

Opening up with “Door,” Knocking… produces a first track with much promise number that grabs attention from the start. The catchy guitar rhythms blend well with Yui’s signature, drawling vocals which occasionally venture up a few octaves and venture into falsetto. Hal also provides a strong backing in the bass line which contributes yet another piece to the story in the tune. Overall, “Door” is a fun and playful number that helps to draw listeners in and begins guiding them on their musical journey.

Next, “Hi [Jou] Kaidan” displays umbrella’s more aggressive style with crashing cymbals and prominent bass lines. Yui’s vocals take on a more growling and slightly ghostly quality as he weaves a story of whimsy and despair. Syu, meanwhile, lays a heavier hand on his guitar, as wild and winding riffs are mixed in to counter Hal’s deep bass notes. The following “Ito.” takes listeners back to a gentler tone, double guitars setting up a more melodic pace in time with Yui’s calm recital before the drums and bass power in. The continual alternation in intensity makes for a striking and varied composition, especially when combined with the range of Yui’s vocal techniques as he finishes the song with a long, drawn-out semi-wail.

Finally, “Toumei” rounds out the single with a more dramatic and dynamic flare as the guitars set an energetic pace with Yui calling out lyrics in his lilting manner. One of the main impressions this song leaves is that the presentation is more straightforward than the preceding tracks. The drums also have a prominent role in this number, the tempo increasing as the song proceeds toward a climax before dropping back again to finish with a flourish of guitar.

Knocking… was the only non-omnibus release umbrella had to offer during 2014 but it is a prime example of the care and quality that this band nurtures in their musical composition. Meanwhile, the lack of frequent releases from umbrella has been balanced with their anniversary oneman live and dedicated participation in a number of prominent events such as Danger Crue Records’ Dead West vs Dead East multi-month production. Hopefully, umbrella will continue to open new paths with their unique sound and energy and expectations will be high for more quality releases to come.

4 track CD

Track list

  1. Door
  2. Hi [Jou] Kaidan
  3. Ito.
  4. Toumei

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

Chi’s interest in visual kei stems from her love of art. The unique aesthetics in combination with the wide range of musical styles within the genre have been what has kept her interest in the visual kei scene for over a decade. The main image her friends and classmates have of her is with a camera in hand, face behind the viewfinder or screen. This image is also occasionally combined with memories of running around her to avoid getting into her panorama shots.

Aki is an adventurous soul and an artistic jack of all trades who has followed her heart and dreams to Japan. Here she has found a way to combine her deeply rooted love for rock and metal with her ever growing love for artistic expression. She has long since confessed to being a helpless music addict with a strong preference for Japanese visual rock and metal, and writing for Rokkyuu has become another way for her to share what she loves with the world.

Amy happened across Dir en grey on a used computer and became enamored by the aesthetics and androgyny of visual kei. Amy studied Japanese at university, including a year studying abroad in Tokyo. Interests include anime and manga, reading, learning languages, playing guitar, and holding on to the futile dream of one day meeting Johnny Depp. Amy hopes to bring the overseas fans closer to the bands they love by translating material related to them.

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