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Shugo Tokumaru - Night Piece

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Artist: Shugo Tokumaru

Album: Night Piece

Label: Music Related

Review date: Feb. 22, 2005

Adorning the cover of Tokumaru’s debut album is a menagerie of wondrous creatures peaking from behind autumnal colored foliage, a clear signpost as to the delicately poised and fragile beauty of this Tokyo resident’s music. The focus here is on well-crafted pop, albeit with a side order of experimental decoration, where every note and embellishment has a purpose, all extraneous material cast aside. His affinity for bright melodies recalls the work of Tokumaru’s primary influence, Brian Wilson, whose shadow is cast across these songs, though without obscuring all trace of the deftness of the young composer’s touch.

The opening “Such A Colour” drags the listener deep into the heart of the wood, as a midnight society of creepy crawlies compete with Tokumaru’s hushed and sombre tenor, accompanied by sparse acoustic guitar arrangements to recall the recent strummings of that current champion of America’s nu-Christian indie scene, Sufjan Stevens. This fine opening serves as fitting introduction to the 23 year-olds’ bittersweet world.

Tokumaru’s emphasis on uncomplicated pop motifs continues throughout this pleasant journey, but are occasionally escorted by more leftfield ghost which, like the aforementioned protagonists of the cover art, peak out of the sonic fauna to glance out at the big bad world. “Paparazzi” breaks briefly with the pastoral mould, offering a darting instrumental skit, like an accompaniment to a British farce at a cheesy holiday resort, or the soundtrack to a slice of avant-garde east-European animation. Closer, “A Kite of Night”, restores the tranquil mood with a lullaby, a farewell serenade, a kiss on the eyelids of a sleeping lover.

By Spencer Grady

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