Japanese post-rock duo, ‘soras – Straddling the line between experimental soundscapes and traditional song writing.
Japanese band ‘soras, comprising ChihaL Okamoto (vocals, guitar, fx) and Kei Takasugi (guitar, fx), create deceptively simple music that demands a closer listen. This talented duo takes advantage of an experimental approach to instrumentation and vocal arrangements to deliver a refreshingly different post-rock experience.
Alternative bands like Black Midi gained popularity with their jazz fused prog strangeness, and Black Country New Road with their unashamed mimicry and literary/art-rock aspirations – all fantastic aspects of music that demand respect – though sometimes, after a long shift at work, you might just want something to declutter the senses… it’s nice to sometimes feel without having to think. One of the greatest joys of being a music fanatic is finding alt-bands that are still relatively unknown and that are 100% transportive in an emotional way, ‘soras tick that box completely.
With their post-rock, ambient and improvisational elements, ‘soras hark back to the past and present themselves in quite an unconventional way (one that is used not nearly enough for my taste), blending the not-so-obvious post-rock icons such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky etc., with the more sombre and tranquil bands of the early post-rock era.
Avoiding the predictable and quintessential post-rock crescendos, and instead opting for a quainter, more delicate approach to song writing typical of bands such as Broken Social Scene and Arial M, ChihaL and Kei straddle the line between experimental soundscapes and well-crafted traditional song writing. Their ability to marry both of these styles is particularly exciting.
Debut single Daydream opens with sanguine guitars, rolling cymbals and a smattering of percussion offering flavour rather than rhythm. The breathy, spaced-out vocals punctuate the sparce instrumentation giving the track an anthemic feel with a melody that will stick in your head for weeks. A backbeat comes in behind the swelling arrangement of guitars and synths, giving the sense of a well-constructed yet not-so-rigid song. For the mid-section, the vocals drop out drawing focus to an expansive soundscape with flowing drums carefully placed low in the mix, and closes with the vocals coming back in for the last minute to give a sense of elation, rounding off this beautiful five-and-a-half minute journey.
ChihaL and Kei’s second single, Awa, adds another two minutes of listening compared to Daydream, kicking off with light, melancholic guitar notes underpinning ChihaL’s vocals. The shimmering cymbal rolls throughout create drama and atmosphere within the song, coupled with a spell-binding second guitar that wouldn’t be out of place on a Windy & Carl album. The ‘in-and-out’ vocal and swooning instrumentation results in tenson and release, and the longer run time of the song allows the listener to become immersed in yet another emotive piece of music. Check out their music video for the song below, released last month.
With a ‘mini-album’/ EP expected later this year, ‘soras are definitely one to seek out to satisfy your post-rock, alt-rock cravings.
Singer songwriter ChihaL Okamoto released her first solo album “夜のお日様(Yoru no Ohisama)” via the MIDI Creative label in 2009, following up with her second album “Snow TV” from her independent label in 2017.
Guitarist Kei Takasugi is a Jazz-based freestyle player, making use of multiple guitar effects to create ambient soundscapes. Kei has released two solo albums and also participated in other artist’s albums as a support player.
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