Shugo Tokumaru - Port Entropy - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Shugo Tokumaru - Port Entropy

by James Briscoe Rating:8 Release Date:2010-11-05

It is great to see Asian and Western culture colliding like this, in the form of Japanese singer/songwriter Shugo Tokumaru and his fourth official album, Port Entropy. Shugo is from Tokyo and first started playing the piano when he was five-years-old, before he took up the guitar and other instruments as a teenager. How often do you see someone from a far eastern culture dressing like he's in an indie bands and playing the guitar? Yeah, you get Eurasians in western bands but Shugo Tokumaru is very clearly Japanese born and bred. It is not easy for far Eastern kids to express themselves in creative ways like this. Their culture is more constrictive than Western culture. So Shugo's music is certainly something new and unusual.

He only sings in Japanese, which brings another perspective to his music. Most of us cannot understand his words but with the tone of his voice and the hum of his guitar, we can tell the main essence of the story he is telling. It only takes one person who tries something different to create a chain reaction and maybe Shugo will start one in East Asia. It is actually refreshing to not be able to understand what a singer is singing when there are so many bands and artists around singing about the same old, same old. With Shugo, we can simply listen and enjoy the glorious sound of his voice and his intelligent use of different instruments.

Track five on the album, 'Rum Hee', despite seeming quite suitable for your average 'hip' Hollywood film starring Michael Cera or Zooey Deschanel, is a lot of fun. The waves of harmonies are beautiful and pull you along with them on a wonderful, happy ride. It has some similarities to upbeat, US/Canadian bands, such as Born Ruffians, but that isn't a bad thing. 'Rum Hee' is a four minute song yet it feels like it's half that length, which is a compliment to the constant movement and evolution of the song. It's such an enchanting track.

Of course, hearing someone singing in another language is always going to be novel at first but the entertainment doesn't seem like it will be short-lived. 'Lahaha' is another fun track on the record with what sounds like a wind instrument starting off proceedings. Again, it has similarities to upbeat, American bands but it has that kitsch, amusing personality, which you could only find in something from East Asia. 'Linne' is a more downbeat song about Shugo diving off a sinking ship and surfacing out of the water where he sees a bird flying away. It serves as a necessary change of pace as a constant happy tone would become sickly sweet. However, Shugo goes back to making us smile again with, 'Malerina'. It's another upbeat track but it has a 70s American rock 'n' roll feel about it but with Japanese lyrics.

For most of you, this will be the first time you've heard of Shugo Tokumaru and unfortunately, who knows how many more will. I don't know how well a Japanese singer can do in the British or American charts. I mean, there is a reason it feels like such a find hearing his music. This makes Port Entropy a haul of treasure though, and it has made me want to discover more East Asian bands and singers. I really recommend you listen to the album!

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