By Kwase Lane, Staff Writer
Math rock isn’t my specialty by any means and my brief foray into the genre somehow made me thankful that I only speak one language. Tricot, Japan’s premier math/ indie/ prog rock quartet is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. I’d wager that it’s best described as a shot of uneasy, rowdy sadness that slips down your throat and I mean that in the best way possible. Although they didn’t see major success on the world stage until the release of their third studio album, Tricot has stayed true to their unique aesthetic and sound. The quartet responsible for these sweet sounds are Ikumi “Ikkyu” Nakajima (vocals, guitar), Motoko “Motifour” Kida (guitar, backing vocals), Hiromi “Hirohiro” Sagane (bass, backing vocals), and the newly acquired Yuusuke Yoshida (drums). One thing’s for sure, restless, satisfying tunes will never be in short supply as long as these four are around.
Read more: Math Rock Monthly: TTNG
A journey through Tricot’s discography demonstrates a steady climb upwards in terms of refinement and technicality. Their first studio album, T H E, is filled with frantic guitars and near-strained vocals. Every piece on the project would make the perfect song to destroy a wooden folding table to, but each in their own unique ways. Just when you would imagine someone getting tired of bashing the ever-loving shit out of this table with their bare hands, Tricot provides a melody that is easy to relax to, while keeping that (probably misplaced) furniture-based hate burning in your heart. That is to say, the group display a great aptitude for changing the mood of a song without sacrificing energy, even if it does come off a little messy.
A N D, Tricot’s second album, demonstrates a surprising amount of self-awareness in regards to the few issues their debut album had. You know that guy who was bashing tables two years ago? Well, he got some help and he’s feeling better than ever. This album has a lot more mellow points, but the emotion in each song feels way more calculated – in a good way. This album is also marked by new buzzy energy as opposed to the near-constant explosion of sound that was T H E and this change pays off in dividends. The panicked sounding instrumental, punctuated by the violent boom is infinitely more satisfying. A bomb can only go off in your hands so many times before you just don’t have hands anymore. And that number of times might actually be once. That was a bad metaphor.
Tricot’s latest attempt at making tasty ear candy resulted in 3. It wasn’t without the sounds that fans of the quartet were used to, but it has a fair few songs with a strangely jazzy feel. Until then, it was kind of easy to only focus on the raw emotion of the vocals, however, songs like “Echo” and “Yosoiki” really let the instrumentation take center stage without sacrificing the passion found in the vocals. In an interview with Prog-Sphere in 2017, Motifour described the mission statement of the group – “We enjoy ourselves, before entertaining others.” Tricot is a superb group that is finding new and amazing ways to keep themselves interested, and we’re lucky enough to be able to appreciate that process.
Like I said before, Tricot is completely foreign to me. They’re a band playing a genre I don’t really listen to in a language I don’t speak at all, but maybe that’s why it fills me with this strange sense of wonder and longing. I think the fact that a piece can make you sad, but also distract you from that sadness with complex and interesting rhythms and instrumentation is remarkable. As soon as I find another band that can make me scream out two numbers with no context and feel good about doing it, I’ll be sure to let you all know.
Listen to Tricot here: