Wednesday Campanella- Galapagos (WM Japan)

Wednesday Campanella- Galapagos (WM Japan)

Here’s an alternative sound of the summer. One of the most prolific bands from Japan in the last six years Wednesday Campanella – whom boast a catalogue of 11 EPS, 2 LPs and sound-tracking a quirky drama movie about an eccentric cat-owner in their home country Neko Wa Dakumono – make electro pop music that although admittedly contain many of the predictable familiar traits of modern electro music which will instantly connect with European audiences, have an infectious personality, idiosyncratic depth and striking balance of sweetness and intelligence that makes them unique.

The trio consists of 30-something lyricists and producers Kenmochi Hidefumi and Dir. F and vocalist/face of the project 26-year-old KOM_I (who keeps her real name a mystery for enigmatic kicks) and their latest record Galapagos radiates both the energy at the peak of summer party madness (movement-inducing base and festival vibes) but also the sound of the season’s sad climax (slow beach guitars and emotive reflection).

The energising summer atmosphere comes from tracks such as ‘Three Mystic Apes’ which includes the kind of football-associated whistles that could help support Japan’s journey in the World Cup, the Clean Bandit-meets-MØ string brass keyboards on ‘The Bamboo Princess’ and the festival-thumping beat and rattling African drums on the only negatively repetitive track ‘Minakata Kumagusu’.

But it’s the exotic acoustic and Hawaiian guitar moments that make one picture a romantic musician plucking strings at sunset by the beach waves in Okinawa that’s most compelling. From the way it bookends the more dramatic flourishes on the wonderfully sporadic and boldly adventurous ‘Melos’, it’s delicate company on the mysterious electronic paradise ‘The Sand Castle’ – which shows KOM_I singing an unusually imperfect and vunreble lullaby – the acoustic guitar is also engaging on a solo on the sparkling tropical ‘Picasso’.

With exception of the brave psychedelic downtempo experiment ‘Matryoshka’ which features a bit of French as it teams up with Melody Echo Chamber’s Pablo, Galapagos is entirely in Japanese. Those who can speak the language or willing to investigate the lyrics will be rewarded with album that shows a passion for folk stories and historical figures. This has been an ever-present trait of Wednesday Campanella who in the past have sung about Aladdin, Medusa, Gengis Khan, Charlie Chaplin, Shinto’s Goddess of Dawn, Audrey Hepburn and Salvador Dali (on the disappointingly omitted ‘Gala’).

On Galapagos, Wednesday Campanella show admiration for Minakata Kumagusu – a multilingual pioneering naturalist who in the first half of the 20th century brought a wealth of new knowledge about biology in Japan after travelling overseas as well as documenting foreign culture icons such as Pablo Picasso on ‘Picasso’ – a song that was written with the help of fans and promoted excessively when set as the temporary theme for Japanese music-plugging show J-Melo – and they discuss about the famous Russian doll ‘Matryoshka’ to demonstrate their cultural curiosity.

While ‘Melos’ (a proverb about friendship) and ‘The Bamboo Princess’ (about a baby discovered in a bamboo plant) and Three Mystic Apes (famously known for the maxim See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil) embrace folk stories, therefore bringing old Japanese tales to modern day audiences.

The title of the album is likely to come from the Japanese-coined business term The Galapagos Syndrome, which describes products that despite effort remain only popular within their country. With an intelligent record as good as this, Wednesday Campanella could yet cure that popularity syndrome.

Galapagos is out now on WM Japan.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.