“I died / I will live”
Who: Daijiro Nakagawa, Sindee, Hatch, rionos, Yuki Hayashi
What: Math Rock, Midwest Emo
Where: Kyoto, Japan
Why: A small movement of midwest-emo bands has thrived in Japan for more than a decade now. Since the mid-2000s they have been faithfully recreating the genre’s iconic maudlin sound, and expansive structures. A sort of mass tribute to the Kinsella family. But Jyocho, led by songwriter Daijiro Nakagawa, who formerly fronted the beloved emo-scene staple Uchu Conbini, has begun making moves towards becoming Japan’s first revolutionary mark on that midwest scene with his new act Jyocho. Further pushing the dense melodic and harmonious math-pop interpretation of midwest emo that he had started with his last group.
Finally, after a series of two excellent EPs and an even more promising single released earlier this year, Jyocho finally arrive with their debut album, The Beautiful Cycle of Termination. It continues along the same current as those previous works, but finally stands long enough to evaluate the band’s core musical idea and it’s lasting power as a genuine statement.
The combination of dense math-rock style guitar and bass lines over classical emo palettes and vocals presents an odd dissonance, like melancholy dressed up nicely and paraded like a show-dog, but it also has a sort of fatalistic allure. Jyocho is the condensed musical version of wanting to be sad. Those nights where you just want to feel something, and force down gulps of sadness to give you a sense of living through this fog. Compounding on this subtext with highly-composed acoustic interludes and downtrodden flute accompaniments.
It has a certain degree of poised artifice to it, but by design. Playing the character of sadness to help aid in it’s conception, it’s both an interesting and wholly unique idea. Contributing to the international dialogue of Midwest-emo in a sincere and tangibly meaningful way. I have my reservations in calling the album a masterwork, or front-to-back spectacular as the finger-aching melodic show-offery can become tiring around the 9 or 10 track mark, but taken in 30 minute chunks, much like the original EPs, it stands tall still.
I wouldn’t even say any track is particularly bad, or intolerable, in fact you could easily shuffle these songs with not effective loss of musical value or punch (minus the albums core theme of the cycle of life which would be muddied). The songs are just so consistently arranged and performed that it becomes a bit tiring despite the high quality of each song individually. Thankfully the frequent inclusion of song-breaking interludes keeps the album feeling necessary for almost it’s entire runtime.