By: Kwase Lane, Features Editor
[cutting edge/8902 Records; 2020]
Key tracks: “サマーナイトタウン”, “箱”, “炒飯”
10, Tricot’s second album of the year, demonstrates an almost unbelievable amount of technical and conceptual refinement compared to their previous projects. Like always, the quartet weaves together complex polyrhythms, gentle melodies and impassioned cries, but 10 is marked by the sense of ease that each piece generates. The album flows from aggressive guitar riffs to mild, barely whispered vocals, all the while being imbued with an intricate serenity that feels unknowable and familiar at the same time.
“サマーナイトタウン” (Summer Night Town) was one of the first pieces on 10 to see the light of day, being released as a single back in late August. Even still, this song hasn’t worn out its welcome. During the verses, each element of the track works independently without clashing with associates or sounding disharmonious. In a relatively uncommon twist for the group, each member takes turns displaying their singing ability and, at times, come together to create delicious harmonies. This fragile cooperation is bolstered during the chorus when Ikkyu’s electrifying voice unifies each instrument. The construction of this song feels incredibly organic. It has a constant heartbeat that slows at times, but only in preparation for the all-out sprint that’s about to occur.
“箱” (Box) is filled with an unassuming aggression. The track begins with a simple lilting chant laid overtop a droning bass. This tranquility arrangement is thrown for a loop as bongo drumming is peppered throughout the song. The layered, pointed vocals mirror the percussiveness of the bongos, lending the piece an unwavering drive that feels as if it might trip over itself at some points. All these details come full circle by the piece’s end, with the empty space initially present being filled by hectic drumming and vocals that dance alongside the cacophony.
The lush, warm vocals and laid-back bass of “炒飯” (Fried Rice) skillfully embody the feeling of a summertime walk in the park. This is only aided by the bird-esque whistling that flutters about Motifour’s steady guitar melody. Later in the track, when the instruments wake up a bit, Ikkyu counters by dropping her singing to a near whisper, preserving the ethereal, dreamy nature of the piece. The summer heat comes and goes, but “炒飯” is always here to remind you of how the sun once felt.
10 is Tricot’s best project to date. In the past, their leaps from serene to chaotic felt somewhat disjointed. Now, even their most violent pieces have a soft, lullaby-like quality incorporated into them. Previous albums saw the group largely relying on growling guitar or frenzied drumming to convey a sense of aggression. That energy is still present, but now it stems from the union of all elements present more than any one on its own. This album marks Tricot’s 10th anniversary of somehow creating music that would be equally well suited to snooze or scuffle to, and here’s to hoping for 10 more.