Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vola and the Oriental Machine

This past Friday evening, Ryoko from Bo-Peep took me to see her husband Arie's band, Vola and the Oriental Machine, play at Shibuya's O-Nest. They are signed by Universal, tour all over Japan, and are quite well known in the music world over here.

Vola plays an eclectic mix of hard rock and electronica. The drummer often bangs out uptempo disco rhythms while Arie's bass drives with intense distortion and buzz. The singer switches accompaniment between guitar and keyboards and at key points in the music, the lead guitarist runs his rig through heavy electronic processing.

For brief moments at a time, Vola's plethora of influences would come and go through their busy sonic spectrum. From the West, I heard elements of Smashing Pumpkins inspired guitars and Daft Punk style vocoding. From the East, a few songs were reminiscent of electro groups like Sakanaction and Capsule. But perhaps these were just my own personal musical projections. Vola's sound is unique and goes well beyond comparison.

You can sample a few highlights from their current work on their myspace page here. The song Future Days most directly matches my attempt at description. The unfortunately spelled Oriental Melonchory gives you a taste of  Vola's adrenalin capacity.

If I could describe Prague as electronica via rock as I did last week, then Vola would be rock via electronica. The keyboards and electronic effects take on just as heavy a role as drums and guitars. I think the connection between the two groups might not be so spurious. I was once out to dinner with members from both bands. Arie from Vola and Tsugu from Prague sat in the corner of the restaurant booth and quietly talked about music for over an hour while ignoring the rest of us. Given the decade and a half between the two, the scene was like master and pupil.

After Vola's performance, Mika, Ryoko, and I made our greetings, then we took off to get some Korean BBQ, known as yakiniku in Japan.

Mika doing what she does best...

Smoky Korean BBQ

Mika goofing off as usual

1 comment:

erindgr8 said...

speaking of food, the ny times did a piece today on ramen in tokyo. i think you should do some investigative reporting. delicious, delicious reporting.