BUSAN, South Korea — Arousing sleepy shoegaze enthusiasts and indieheads across the peninsula this week are none other than Brooklyn’s dreampop champions Asobi Seksu. Just a few weeks after the cherry blossoms have disappeared into memory, and with the summer aggressively closing in, who better to tune into than the dancey, melancholy carols of noise rock cut with J-Pop stylings?
Having generated a formidable and diverse discography in their career, and known for putting on startlingly beautiful live performances while touring regularly, Asobi Seksu is a band whose airy presence seriously cannot be missed. Korea’s fans and concert-goers alike hold hopes high for the transient, audio-visual spectacle that is Asobi Seksu and their sublimely gorgeous, spaced-out sound. To the delight of Busan, their tour will make a stop in both Busan and Seoul (with dates and ticket information below).
Asobi Seksu, whose name loosely means “playful sex” in Japanese, is a band built around core members Yuki Chikudate (piano, vocals) and James Hanna (guitar, vocals), though over the years the team has featured a variety of additional members. Since the band’s formation back in college in 2002, they have had a fantastically busy career, having launched four potent studio albums, three memorable live albums and a whole mess of singles.
Overall, their tracks simultaneously emit notions of the personal and the distant, like having a secret whispered to you on a submarine intercom. Solemn lyrics about memories, running away, disappearing and loneliness – juxtaposed by cheery, upbeat, even danceable melodies – are in large part a feature of the band’s complex and layered substance. A brief listen of the band’s renowned album, Citrus - a release which cast Asobi Seksu into the indie spotlight back in 2006 – is still enough to send any dream pop aficionado into a blissful state, one perhaps even instigating an actual shoeward gaze.
Stylistically, the band finds its center at something of a nostalgic crossroads, bridging indie genres of the 80s and 90s while crafting something that is both dynamic and their own. The band’s hypnotic, noise rock/dream pop melodies are often likened to that of shoegaze legends Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, featuring the occasional alt-rock drone likened to the Smashing Pumpkins, and the occasional nod to Air. The central role of Chikudate’s glassy, Cocteau Twins-esque vocals lends a clean edge to the entire racket, giving it a refreshing and tasteful tinge of J-Pop. All the while, Hanna’s guitar grounds the colossal structure, keeping one foot safely in reality.
Gaining notoriety over the years from an international audience, Asobi Seksu’s popularity has been further propelled by the appearance of their songs on reputable music blogs and online mix tapes, not to mention some major TV series, such as Skins and The L-Word. On this Asian tour, Asobi Seksu is scheduled to play in Thailand before playing two shows in South Korea, then finally tearing through four cities across Japan.
With a range of tracks that excerpt dream sequences of running through fields of electric dandelions, of waves crashing against an invisible shore, and of eyes looking in through a cafe window on a rainy night, the spectral collection of works by Asobi Seksu ranges from dancey lava lamp anthems to distorted celestial carols. It’s pretty much the perfect thing to listen to while waiting for the Catbus.
This tour marks the final SuperColorSuper international tour. In recent years it's been a good run for SuperColorSuper, which has brought some great indie acts to Busan, an oft-forgotten city for international talent.
May 11 at the Vinyl Underground, Busan
May 12 at Rolling Hall, Seoul
For tickets and more information, check out www.SuperColorSuper.com