BLOG CYCLE 10

 

Why Tsushimamire, Here?

Tsushimamire "New" Album Review

Tsushimamire "New" Album Lyrics in English Translation

 

Why Tsushimamire, Here?

A drawing!  Yayoi, Mari, and Maiko!

Some may ask why I am devoting another blog page on my MARCH OF THE ECCENTRICS novel web site to the Japanese band TSUSHIMAMIRE.  Well, for starters, I love this band!  Next, these artists are genuinely eccentric!  And finally, my novel is coursed with references to, and stories about, MUSIC: the blood that flows through the veins of the generations, defining both the mainstream and the rebellious, the satisfied and the discontented, the distracted and the visionary, the lost ones and the discoverers. The novel is filled with lyrics, concerts, shadowy clubs, world-changing bands, despicable posers and noble troubadours, providing competing soundtracks to a world in tumult, teetering on the cusp between Heaven and Hell.  I have always imagined a band like Tsushimamire in the mix there, somewhere, probably pouring in through the headphones of Japanese culture rebel Yuki Onomatsu, one of the major novel protagonists.  She would be getting her musical difference through them, while Donna, Freddy, and the NY Boho crew got theirs from 1960s-hero reverberations and post-hippie save-the-world tunes.   The reason for their presence stated, here's the posts about TSUSHIMAMIRE!

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Tsushimamire "New" Album Review

Promo for "New" and a related tour: Yayoi, Mari, and Maiko.

TSUSHIMAMIRE "NEW" ALBUM REVIEW.  My favorite Japanese band, the all-female punk/rock/alt trio Tsushimamire, has recently come out with a new album - most appropriately titled "New."  The band, itself, has been around for about 18 years, but is in the process of rebirthing itself (becoming new while persisting), after longtime drummer Mizue Masuda left early this year (2017) to pursue her own path.  I really couldn't stand Mizue's departure, because she was a powerful, even mighty presence, like a samurai/earth-spirit woman of the drums, who mesmerized me in New York where I saw the band live.  But lyrical genius/different-mind visionary/lead vocalist Mari Kono remained, along with bass diva, elastic woman, Yayoi Tsushima, to preserve the soul, spirit & purpose of the band.  This powerfully connected pair was fortunate, very early in the struggle to keep Tsushimamire afloat, to find talented drummer Maiko Takagi, who has ably filled in the gap left by Mizue and once more made Tsushimamire whole...  And now, to the album.  I LOVE IT!  With lyrics penned by Mari, and music hatched by the Mari/Yayoi special-artists' team (I imagine them hanging out, jamming, experimenting, getting hit by sudden inspirations, and also doing the careful, hard work to tie everything together and solve the inevitable creative problems), "New" offers a wide variety of sounds and themes that does justice to the band's high standards and alternative creds.  Production, musicianship, arrangements, mixing, and sound quality are all high, so that there is no technical letdown of the artistic concept. 

"Space Elevator", Mari's remolding of the fascinating scientific concept of a space-elevator which may one day allow people to go into space without a rocket, starts off with a cheery, ultra pop sound, before the vocals disappear into the silence of a driving, upward surging beat that conveys a journey, intensified with interesting chord changes; the vocals return, with a highly intriguing restraint (so unlike Mari, who often rattles off nonstop deluges of words): the spare phrases are separated by maddening (but powerful) spaces of nothing but beat.  The song continues to play tricks on us, showing us  different faces, but unified by Yayoi's relentless bass, which seems like the space elevator, itself, rising up to the joys and mysteries of the cosmos.  (Mari's going to be the first one in the space elevator, the one who has the curiosity and appetite to do something amazing and never done before.)  In  "Tokyo Jellyfish", released to YouTube as a demo single, the band grafts different styles together - pop, and passages that seem slightly jazz, and almost primal ritual -  all the while dealing with loneliness and hope in love, and touting music as a way of replacing romance, or perhaps as a medium in which to find it.  In this song, it is possible that Mari plays with the old Japanese concept of ukiyo,  'the floating world', which referred to a time and place in history where people not rooted in, or held to, confining social responsibilities (stemming from feudalism) drifted about in a new world of their own making centered on pleasure and independence.  Many were lost there, but many also achieved breakthroughs of the senses.  Whether intended or not, nothing floats better than a jellyfish!  "Looking for he who goes on a journey, I will float in a shiny dress, in Tokyo Bay; holding hands and dancing for love, making eye contact and swimming for love..."  Follow this with "Crazy for You", a song beginning somewhat mysteriously - something enigmatic about the music wrapping up Mari's love desire - until the pop-rock hook bursts in, conveniently sung in English (hooray, translators can take a break!)  A nice instrumental, built around guitar, joins in later.  All in all, a thoroughly likable and good-feeling song:  sweet, but 'cool sweetness', not the kind which rockers hate! "Don't You" comes on next, with a strong bass and drum intro.  And then, they just keep at it.  'Don't you' whispered in English, grows like some weird plant in the background.  A pop element enters.  Then, back to the beat with really interesting instrument variations.  Yeah, I like this one!  And the lyrics fascinate:  "It's a relief, words' sugar-coating melts.  'Someday' isn't going to happen.  I admire your unmoved heart.  When Stonehenge is completed, let's arrange a meeting.  Meanwhile, let's kill time with smart phones." "Hello World", the album's fifth track, starts off with a more recognizable Tsushimamire beginning - a harder rock chaos sound - which then withdraws to bass (almost as a  background vocal) to give space to Mari's legendary mile-a-minute mouth (she's great at spewing out amazing content in an emotional talking voice, as she did at certain choice moments of 'Speedy Wonder.')  The music pours back in as she sings 'Hello World... Follow me... Hello, Good-bye... Honey, Sorry!', mixing Japanese and English; before returning to Mari rap mode:  "Got stung by a bee hidden in a bed in Feldkirch (Austria), but rolled around in silence, trying not to wake anybody up, cause Japanese are considerate... No one knows a Japanese girl punk rock trio is making somebody happy in a corner of the world... The best lives have lots of problems but keep moving forward...  Hello, world!  I'll go anywhere!"  A pretty apt description of this hard-working, tour-loving band!  If there was a music club on top of Mt. Everest, I bet they would play there!  "Girl's Talk", the sixth track, is carried by engaging music that makes you feel like walking down a street filled with movie theaters, or shopping.  The protagonist is a talker, a big talker, in the process of observing herself like someone writing a diary page; everything that sparks up in her head comes out, sometimes too unguarded, a product of confusion yet perhaps a way of figuring it all out.  Or maybe all that talking is, in the end, nothing more than a way of being together and bonding with a friend.  Maybe the joys of conversation matter even more than what is said.  (Mari doesn't exactly say this, but it's how it take it!) And, as usual in a composition by Mari Kono, there are some great lines:  "There are endless words.  My mouth starts to dance.  Because a rainbow across the sky doesn't belong to anyone, I want to dye it my favorite color." Late in the song, come musical variations that really get me - THIS SONG'S GOT A LOT GOING ON!  Three thumbs up!  And then it's on to "Parmigiano Reggiano", a typical Tsushimamire use of food metaphors.  The cheese is cultivated and made without knowing to whose home it's going, what taste it's going to be mixed in with, what it's going to be used for, or when.  But it can get tastier with age.  "I want to meet my Fate with laughter," says Mari, splicing human life onto the tale of the cheese.   Giantess, heroine? - or girl in a cave? - there is joy and purpose in every life: for Tsushimamire, food has always been a path to wisdom!  (And judging by the amount of delicious meals posted on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, they must be very wise by now!)  Track 8, "Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs", chronicles a love that's become 'lazy.'  "Please love me.  Actually, the love already ended a long time ago... the carp was fished out a long time ago.  It was wolfed down and now the stomach is full."  But the song has lots of energy, not at all lazy!  Vibrant!  Seems the love isn't gone, after all, it needs just a little more Tsushimamire on the headphones!  Next song on the album, "Simple",  is about love, and the wish to find a simple answer to our problems, without so much struggle and thinking - 'it's right there, but still we can't reach it..."  But in healing moments we 'hold each other tight and try to avoid loneliness...  We have love, and live.'  The song does different things musically, but has a lot of beauty in its best moments which convincingly turn on the words' meaning (flipping it on like a light switch).  The tenth track is "One", and no, it is not a cover of the U2 hit!  It begins with interesting music, like a giant taking long, slow strides (as his feet come down, Yayoi's bass makes the stomps!)  Then in comes Mari, singing with an innocent yet philosophical voice - 'No matter how hard I try, life is filled with unknown things.  Look!  No matter how hard I try, it's still a world of strangers.'  The world is constantly changing.  Changing.  Changing. Everything changes except one thing.  'It's a wonder to be joyful with only one thing.  We connect with each other and live with only one thing.' Yeah, that's a strong statement of love (and grounding) in an unstable, sometimes treacherous, shape-shifting world.  Once again, the music beautifully fits the words.  There is sweetness in the crater...  And finally, we come to track ten, "Mr. Punk 2."  Yeah, Punk Girls honor their roots.  Just when it seems too smooth, they cut it up with some discordant stuff, before going back to smooth.  In this one, Mari takes a break from her writing abilities; this is pretty much, "Mr. Punk 2, I love Punk Rock!"  Which is just fine! 

The album, which I liked at the outset, grows on me every time I listen to it, so that now I can honestly say I like it twice as much as I did the first time!  It didn't hurt to get a handle on the lyrics (thanks to NY-based translator YUKO DOKAWA), so that now I can claim to have had a full Tsushimamire experience!  (I have always found it amazing that they could be so enjoyable to listen to even when I didn't have a clue about what they were saying - for me, they might as well have been singing 'La la la la la, la la la la la, la la la la la!' But they always had enough charisma to pull it off!)  "New" is not only a top-notch musical product in its own right, it is also a testament to the power and relevance of this band, whose maturing leaders (Mari and Yayoi) have proven themselves to be far more than 'pretty youth stars' - those cut flowers that last only a few days in a vase.  These are women of substance, stronger than the fads which launch and devour transient stars; they have preserved and cultivated their beauty through the years with the radiance of their spirits and the gift of their artistry, which shines out like light from a lantern.  With brains like that, and faces that will still be beautiful 50 years from now because of who they are, they're not going away!  MOST STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!  To order your own copy of "New", please go to:  https://tsushimamire1.bandcamp.com/  , and look for "New."

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Tsushimamire "New" Album Lyrics in English Translation

PROLOGUE:   

One issue I've had a long time with Tsushimamire is the difficulty of getting good English translations of their lyrics.  If their lyrics were anemic or dull, it wouldn't matter:  but they're not!  They're lively, intelligent, original, and meaningful on the personal, social, emotional and mental planes.  Listening to their music, I have sometimes felt like a blind man feeling a painting - my hands like what I touch, but I want to see it like everyone else! I want the full experience!

This is why I recently collaborated with a Japanese translator here in New York City - Yuko Dokawa - to create an English version of the lyrics from Tsushimamire's latest album, "New."  Translating is tricky business, and I'm not sure we got it 100% right, because there are so many subtleties and nuances in poetry, and it is possible that some of those nuances and precise shades of color from the original Japanese might have fallen between Yuko's hand, trying to give them to me, and my own hand reaching out to receive them.  It is also possible that I may have projected some of my own speculations onto deliberately ambiguous wordings, in a misguided attempt to clarify things that were designed to be mysterious, or unshaped (things given raw by the subconscious and meant to be left so).  If so, I accept full responsibility for the errors!  However, whatever imperfections these translations may contain (my responsibility), I think they do a fair job of conveying the basic gist of the songs, and providing a good sense of their intriguing nature.  This should be much appreciated by Tsushimamire's many English-speaking fans!

CREDITS:  Original lyrics by:  Mari Kono (tracks 1-11), Yayoi Tsushima (track 3).  Original music by:  Mari Kono & Yayoi Tsushima.  Thanks for permission to undertake this project.  Translator:  Yuko Dokawa.   Translation Project Coordinator/Editor:  J Rainsnow.  

Mari enjoying snow in north Japan, 2017. I love snow, too; I even put it in my name!

1. Space Elevator 

I'm the first one going up in the space elevator

My inferiority complex:

brush it off, and become the first star of the evening

Venus flew away

The first one going up in the space elevator

The first one going up in the space elevator

To the south - the North Star!

Break through space-time

The planets loved each other

The first one going up in the space elevator

I am the first one going up in the space elevator

YEAH!

Flew away

The first one going up in the space elevator

WHY? TRY! MY TIME!

WHY? TRY! I RIDE!

WHY? TRY! MY TIME!

WHY? TRY! I RIDE! 

The first one going up in the space elevator

The first one going up in the space elevator

The first one going up in the space elevator

The first one going up in the space elevator

 

 

2. Tokyo Jellyfish

 

He eats you

He boils you and eats you

The shriveled skin is beautiful

The elasticity of the cheek is mouthwatering

I can see through you

I can see all the way through you

Sucking your soaked fingerprints

 ďTo liveĒ is salty

Noisily eating away!

I am alright with being alone

I donít care about where he is

People take good care of me

I can fit anywhere

Where did he go?

Itís a waste of time to worry about it

When music sings

I feel good and sway

Tokyo Bay. I will float in a frilled dress

Holding hands and dancing for love

Making eye contact and swimming for love

Meeting him in a dream as the excitement grows

Looking for the one who goes on a journey

Tokyo Bay. I will float in a shiny dress

Holding hands and dancing for love

Making eye contact and swimming for love

Meeting him in a dream as the excitement grows

I forgot everything when I left on a trip!

Tokyo Bay rendezvous

 

 

 

3. Crazy for you

 

Two people who wake up in a different morning

Tracing the same light and path

Erasing time, places and words

We draw the future for just the two of us

I canít believe anyone.  It's an impulse that goes beyond the world

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you everyday

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you; you are with me

Although I always feel close to you

The day ends again without you

Please don't stop me.  I will go to the worldís end.

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you, only you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you, please be by my side

I've lived with an ambiguous heart

ĎCause I could keep on living even if I lost everything

Oh I love you! Only that moves me.

I am drowning in the universe of love

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you everyday

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you

Crazy Crazy Crazy for you, you are with me

I only fell in love once in my life

I am in the middle of my story

Oh I love you! Only that moves me

In the universe of love

 

 

 

4. Donít you?

 

Donít you?

Itís so simple because I see right through you

What a relief:  Sugar-coating melts off the words

 ďSomedayĒ I'll do it; "someday" will never come

I admire your unflinching heart

When Stonehenge is completed

we'll get together

Meanwhile, let's kill time with smart phones

Letís worship the sun

When Stonehenge is completed

we'll arrange a meeting

Meanwhile, let's kill time with smart phones

Letís worship the sun

Cutting hair without awareness

Identities melting in the city

Licking mediocre wounds

Living without understanding each other

Donít you?

 

 

 

5. Hello World

 

Drinking Turkish coffee down to the dregs

till I shake from caffeine 'cause I want to hold your hand. Flying to Istanbul.

Licorice, a jet-black mint tablet; everyone spits it out because itís the worst tasting

But I can swallow it for you.

I slurped instant noodles that got flabby before I finished

I thought I could live anywhere. France 8 pm at FabrŤgues.

Your Facebook name isn't your real name

I'll never be able to remember it, but I will be your friend forever

Hello World! I will go anywhere (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Follow me! Come anyway (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Hello Goodbye! I want to see you again (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Honey, Sorry! No problem (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Please love me even if you don't want to!

Hello World!

Screaming at the shower which only gives cold water.

The girl went to sleep in Austria, coated with sweat.

Got stung by a bee that was hidden in a bed at Feldkirch

Writhed in silence, trying not to wake anyone up because Japanese people are considerate

No one knows Japanese punk rock girls are making somebody happy tonight

In a corner of the world

I canít stop what I'm doing, even though my beloved gets fed-up

The best lives are filled with problems, but keep moving forward

Hello World! I will go anywhere (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Follow me! Come anyway (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Hello Goodbye! I want to see you again (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Honey, Sorry! No problem (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Please love me even if you don't want to!

Love me!

Love me!

Hello World! I will go anywhere (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Follow me! Come anyway (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Hello Goodbye! I want to see you again (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Honey, Sorry! No problem (yay yay yay yay yay yay)

Please love me even if you don't want to!

Love me!

Love me!

Hello World!

Yayoi performing in the foreground with her formidable bass, 2017. 

 

6. Girlís Talk

We're talkative girls, and we like stories without answers

We have a talent for replying

What should I talk about next?

Words pour out, trying to wash away the confusion

After it all, I begin to wonder

My mouth starts to dance into being

a story of the future; a story of love

I am tired of listening to the old stories

We're together making noise, laughing

You are here and I'm happy

Confused things in my head start to pour out too fast to get a grip on

There are endless torrents of words

My mouth starts to dance.

Because a rainbow across the sky doesnít belong to anyone,

I want to dye it my favorite color

Tracing the light that shines in the depths of my memory

Because a rainbow across the sky doesnít belong to anyone,

I want to dye it my favorite color

Even though I spew out thousands of words, it doesn't mean a thing if I am alone

I keep searching for the one truth with you

 

 

 

7. Parmigiano Reggiano

 

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano

This bundle of amino acids

I bought a delicious wine

Tonight I'm craving a little luxury

Letís take you to my home

Rough and crunchy, Italian-raised

Without knowing

what kind of taste it wants to be

Or whose place it wants to go to,

For sure it never knew.

No matter how disappointing my Destiny might be, I want to meet it with laughter

I'd like to melt the shattered bits of my pride on a gratin

It doesn't matter how long I've waited

It will become tastier as it ages

Without knowing

what kind of person I want to be

Or how I want to live.

I will never know that.

Every day I want to greet the new day

I want to live with laughter

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano

This bundle of amino acids

 

 

8. Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

 

The cat was watching everything

It fell silent, played and traced

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Ah

The cat knows Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo

It cast a magic spell that didn't last

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Oh Please love me!

Actually the love already ended long ago

The carp was fished out of the pool a long time ago:

I wolfed it down and now I'm stuffed

The girl who couldnít move, lost

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Ah

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs

Ah I love you

 

 

9. Simple

 

Fading away into vagueness

Healing between times apart

Together now I can see

There is love and now I'm alive

It wells up and I canít stop and I canít pretend

We're on each other's mind; we support each other coming and going

Fading away into vagueness

Healing between times apart

Together now I can see

There is love and now I'm alive

Right now, it's impossible for me to solve the problem

I want to go for the simple answer instead of struggling to figure it out

We hold each other tight and flee from the loneliness

We attract each other and love each other and then live off the echoes

Fading away into vagueness

Healing between times apart

Together now I can see

There is love and now I'm alive

Right now, it's impossible for me to solve the problem

The simple answer is right there, no thought needed; but even so, today it's beyond my reach

I want to go for the simple answer instead of struggling to figure it out

The rain erases peoples' shadows, buildings' shadows.

Patterns of clouds and patterns of trees are fluttering in the wind

I can meet you in the morning again under the crystal-clear blue of the sky.

I am longing for tomorrow to come: to see your face, to hear your voice

Maiko, hi, you've done an excellent job on the drums!  Thank you!

 

10. One 

No Matter how hard I try, life is full of unknown things

Look! No matter how hard I try, we are just strangers, after all

Everyone has a different understanding of what's important

They just believe they love each other

Hearts that are helplessly separated also come near

I will see you again for sure

Happy things and sad things are the same

You breathe them in with the air

Constantly changing

Constantly changing

Even though it all changes, there's one thing that doesnít change

Constantly changing

Constantly changing

Even though it all changes, there's one thing that doesnít change

No matter how hard I try, life is full of unknown things

Look! No matter how hard I try we are just strangers, after all

It's a wonder to be joyful with only one thing

We connect with each other and live with only one thing

 

 

 

11. Mr. PUNK 2

 

(One two three four)

Mr. PUNK 2

Mr. PUNK 2

Mr. PUNK 2

Mr. PUNK 2

Ah- Ah- Ah- Ah-

Mr. PUNK 2

Mr. PUNK 2

Mr. PUNK 2

Mr. PUNK 2

Ah- Ah- Ah- Ah-

(Huhu) I love

(Huhu) Punk rock

(Huhu) Maybe punk rock

(Huhu) I love

(Huhu) Punk rock

(Huhu) Maybe

(Huhu) Punk rock

(Huhu) I love

(Huhu) Punk rock

Mr. PUNK 2

**********

 

If you liked this page, you may wish to search for some of my previous material about Tsushimamire, available in Blog 8 - or on "J Rainsnow" Facebook (use search words 'rainsnow  Tsushimamire').

For more material with a Japanese connection, please see Blog 5 , and Blog 11 .

Thanks, and bye for now!     -   JRS

 

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