Tricot – ‘3’

By Glen Bushell

While the Western world tends to have the monopoly on music in the grand scheme of things, Japan has consistently produced great artists from a variety of genres. From the stunning compositions of Ryuichi Sakamoto, to the powerful noise of Boris, the majority of musicians have a wealth of talent that outshines their more commercially successful counterparts. Tricot are no exception, and have been a mainstay on the underground indie circuit in the far East over the last few years.

The trio’s latest effort, ‘3’, is an expansion of the sound they honed with precision across their last two records. Filled with vibrant hooks, disjointed time signatures, ethereal post-rock, and jazz-infused breaks, it is a whirlwind ride that twists and turns at the blink of an eye. Carried by Ikkyu Nakajimi’s vocal melodies, ‘3’ is sung entirely in Japanese with the candy-coated feel of J-pop. There’s a lot going on, but it never feels over the top, just natural and cohesive.

Before you even have a chance to digest the songs on ‘3’, the jaw-dropping musicianship is enough to make your head spin. ‘Tokyo Vampire Hotel’ is a rampant burst of math-pop, with frantic, off-kilter drumming weaving in and out of intricate guitar lines. It’s easy to see why Tricot get compared to Battles and Don Caballero as ‘Yosoiki’ breezes by, bleeding into the broken rhythms of ‘DeDeDe’. But the comparison is lazy, and Tricot are very much their own unique entity.

‘3’ is very much an acquired taste, though. There are points on ‘Pork Ginger’ where Nakajimi’s vocals get a bit too much, which will no doubt be like nails on chalkboard to some. And if you want a record to just nod your head to or have as background music, the spastic riffs during ’09 18, 09’ wax and wane too much to ignore. It requires attention, and the detail that’s gone into the writing on ‘3’ deserves it. Besides, if you don’t pay attention, you would miss the gloriously saccharine closing track, ‘Melon Soda’, which is one of the highlights on ‘3’.

In an age where so many bands play it safe, pandering more to wider audience than artistic credibility, ‘3’ sits somewhere between the two. It’s the most inviting effort from Tricot yet, but their accomplished playing hasn’t been compromised in the slightest. It’s exciting, different, and a leap forward for the Japanese indie scene.

GLEN BUSHELL

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