Archives for posts with tag: Shunkan

Sparkle Kitty
Christchurch synthesists (?) Sparkle Kitty are back with a slice of fat/ phat synth-bass gyrating pop called “Tender”.

The intro to “Tender” may bring big memories for the old & frail of Rick Astley’s 80’s synth-pop hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”. But, like everything today infected with the seed of 80’s synth pop, Sparkle Kitty add the kind of effortless cool the likes of Rick Astley could never manage.

This is partly because “Tender” is a deeper, darker, more substantial pop tune with a Euro-Disco edge, and partly because Lucy Macilquham’s vocals run melodic gymnastic circles all around and over those hairspray 80’s boys.

Sparkle Kitty play at Chick’s Hotel on Saturday 8 August with Shunkan.

Chick’s Hotel has a bass-monster PA system, smoke machine, a great light-show and a glitter ball. That’s all you need to know.

Here’s the second unnecessary list from the mid-way point in PopLib’s year of music discovery 2015. This one is PopLib’s favourite 5 songs posted so far this year.

OK, it’s actually 6 songs, but the two songs sharing 5th equal on this list total just over 3 minutes together. Anyway, these are the songs played the most, loved the most so far in 2015. Pretty simple…

5 = Jim Nothing – Raleigh Arena

Christchurch 4-track portastudio cassette tape mangler Jim Nothing encapsulates the spirit of fuzzy lo-fi guitar pop in 1 minute and 18 seconds with “Raleigh Arena” from his “Zig Zag Blues” cassette.

5 = Shunkan – Our Names

The first single in advance of a debut album due later in 2015, “Our Names” is a different sounding Shunkan to the name we were first introduced to a year ago via the self-recorded cassette EP “Honey, Milk & Blood” and the following electronica excursions on シュンカン I . The Shunkan of “Our Names” is now a 5-piece band (one of the best live bands around the south of NZ at the moment) and the song a stirring 2-minute fuzz-pop anthem full of melodic hooks.

4. Jay Som/ Melina Duterte – Forget About It Kid

From that Cure-inspired chorus guitar to the epic chiming guitar parts and synth wash, the combination of elements of 80’s post-punk with dreamy synth-pop gives this fine song by young Californian Melina Duterte (also going under the name Jay Som) depth and substance.

3. Ego – Moon

These Sydney youngsters have delivered an unlikely space-rock anthem that sounds contemporary while also unwittingly recreating some 70’s style soft-rock magic through those reverb-washed harmony vocals. Supple, under-stated drumming and earworm guitar melodies give a hint of a band with much potential.

2. Birdation – Hen’s Teeth

Within the murky overblown distortion and submerged vocals of “Hen’s Teeth” lurks a brilliant song. But the structural murk itself contributes so much to the mood struck here. Hard to believe something as massive sounding as this is performed live by just one person. But anyone who has seen Hope Robertson play as Birdation (or in her many other guitarist guises) knows what she can conjure with a jumble of pedals, ancient drum-machine and sundry electronic devices, including the unexpected sonic properties of an e-cigarette.

1. Day Ravies – Under the Lamp

The whole “Under The Lamp” EP – and the 7″ single preceding it – is wonderful. Can’t stop playing it. Every song is a favourite but “Under The Lamp” is just so perfect. The sonic churn and swoop of the guitar evokes My Bloody Valentine, but the vocal melody would shine on a Broadcast album and the whole thing is wrapped up in a Stereolab-esque keyboard swirl, without sounding derivative of any of these bands. A second Day Ravies album is out in July. Can’t wait.

It’s the middle of the year and everyone seems to be making mid-year “best of…” lists; Top 10/ 20/ 50/ 100 songs/ albums/ shows etc.

You can either ignore a bandwagon and get run over by it, or jump on board. So, in the spirit of contributing more completely subjective and totally unnecessary mid-year lists PopLib will compile a few over the next few days.

To start off, here’s PopLib’s “Top 5 Videos” so far in 2015. Of course “Top” is meaningless. These are just 5 videos I’ve watched a lot and have enjoyed. They are all made on a budget, some are quite simple ideas, but all are compelling and interesting.

“Hickford Whizz” by Day Ravies

Can’t get enough of the latest Day Ravies releases at the moment. This Sydney, Australia 4-piece band have a new album out in July. But already this year they’ve released some of my favourite music. There’s a brilliant 7″ single – which “Hickford Whizz” here is from – and a 4 track cassette EP called “Under The Lamp” which is dazzling and a fresh blend of styles and sounds and ideas. This video is a mix of stop motion live action and animations. A reminder in here of the stop-motion creativity of Chris Knox on Tall Dwarf’s “Nothings Going To Happen”.

“Dear ___ ” by Death And The Maiden

Dunedin doom-wave/ post-punk/ electro-trance trio Death And The Maiden released their debut album a few months ago. It is a special record and one that takes a while to reveal it’s secrets and take a grip on your heart. I’ve had a head start over everyone else, but the compelling, soothing but slightly disturbing video for “Dear ___ ” is your chance to catch up. There’s a sense of existential reflection about most Death and The Maiden songs and the video by Erica Sklenars raises its own ambiguous questions in a very subtle way about reality, image, decay.

“Actually” by Rozi Plain

English musician Rozi Plain has an album out on a small Scottish label Lost Map and “Actually” was the song I discovered Rozi Plain through (having been found the Lost Map website looking for a Tough Love release). The hint of Robert Wyatt in the song, words, phrasing and non-conformist pop spirit of the song was enough to hook me. This simple video is perfect for the song.

“All The Stars” by The Shifting Sands

Port Chalmers trio The Shifting Sands are lucky to have a creative partner in visual artist and video-maker Veronica Brett. Her three videos for songs from The Shifting Sands first album “Feel” were animations. But this latest video combines a bit of everything – live action puppetry, stop motion animation and computer generated animated backdrops. A perfectly intriguing video for this song, which is on their 2nd album “Cosmic Radio Station” scheduled for release in September. It was also featured on last year’s compilation album “TEMPORARY – Selections From Dunedin’s Pop Underground 2011 – 2014”

“Our Names” by Shunkan

Shunkan combine the considerable talents of relocated Los Angeles musician Marina Sakimoto, her Invercargill flat-mates, and Christchurch based drummer to produce some of the best hook-laden noisy pop the south has experienced in recent years. “Our Names” is from a debut album out sometime this year on UK label Art Is Hard.

[Disclosure: The Death And The Maiden video and The Shifting Sands video are from releases on the label I run, Fishrider Records, but I’m sure you’ll excuse a bit of self-promotion when it involves recognising the creativity of some very talented video makers].

Here’s “We Are All The Same” from Exgynoid. Listen in and then read on…

As explained on Shunkan’s Facebook page, Shunkan started out as Marina Sakimoto, became a band and, along the way, left a musical crumb trail of lo-fi shoe-gaze dream-pop, electronic pop, and experimental ambient-electronica soundscapes, before becoming the crunching power-pop band of “Our Names” from the forthcoming debut album “The Pink Noise”.

Potentially confusing? There’s nothing wrong with sonic diversity and keeping people guessing about identity and genre. However, Marina decided to create a separate identity – Exgynoid – for her solo, electronic based music. The three-song “CULTUS” is our introduction.

“Character Customization” is a brief instrumental introduction before the two main courses – both of which demonstrate a mastery of pop song-craft in quite different and unusual/ adventurous ways.

“Candy” is sweet pop, with a kind of faux mandolin, and recognisably Shunkan/ Marina Sakimoto (that distinctive voice & command of melodic songwriting), but the two different instrumental bridges/ drops are thrilling & fun.

“We Are All The Same” is another beautifully crafted pop song, vocal gymnastics bouncing on top of a minimalist electronic echo-pulse. Perfect. Just like the name Exgynoid. Machine synthesis (re)taking humanoid form. Welcome.



Here’s a beaut 1 minute and 59 second blast of fuzzed-out melodic power-pop from Invercargill band Shunkan. “Our Names” is the first airing for a song from an upcoming album recorded with a full band.

If you have loitered around the PopLib pages here for the past year you’ll know the story of Shunkan – Marina’s relocation from LA to Invercargill NZ, DIY recording & UK label cassette release of the fabulous “Honey, Milk & Blood” EP then forming a band to play the songs live.

“Our Names” can be purchased via UK label Art Is Hard and comes – in a typically innovative Art Is Hard format – as a screen printed comic with three songs as a download (“Our Names’ and two demos for album tracks).

An album was recorded late last year in Christchurch and adds the considerable drumming talents of Andy Gibbs from The River Jones (another PopLib favourite). Her crisp, explosive style provides the perfect propulsive fuel for this song. This sub-2-minute observational slice-of-life song explodes with melodic hooks and is an enticing entree for the full album, hopefully out later (but not too much later) this year.

Shunkan cassette, The Stevens LP, Bushwalking LP, Trick Mammoth WIAIWYA 7777777 singles club 2014 7" picture disc single.

Shunkan cassette, The Stevens LP, Bushwalking LP, Trick Mammoth WIAIWYA 7777777 singles club 2014 7″ picture disc single.

These were my favourite 10 songs featured this year here on Pop Lib. Rather than wax lyrical about each of these songs in the time-honoured traditions of such lists, I’ve just bunged up a player so you can give them a listen and make your own mind up.

If you like a song & want more info, click through to the linked Pop lib blog post. If you like a song A LOT, go and buy it. You deserve to treat yourself to a new music discovery or three for Christmas.

1. Fazerdaze – Zero (self-released CD EP)

Posted on Pop Lib on 27 September 2014

2. Bushwalking – No Men (Chapter Music – from “No Enter” LP)

Posted on Pop Lib 8 June 2014

3. Fazed On A Pony – Alone (self-released)

Posted on Pop Lib 25 October 2014.

4. Shunkan – Dust From Your Eyes (Art Is Hard – from “Honey, Milk & Blood” cassette EP)

Posted on Pop Lib 4 May 2014.

5. Fair Maiden – Lady of Fortune (Bedroom Suck – from “Fair Maiden” LP)

Posted on Pop Lib 3 June 2014.

6. Trick Mammoth – Doll (WIAIWYA 7″ singles club)

Posted on Pop Lib 31 May 2014

7. The Stevens – Turpin’s Fall (Chapter Music – from “The History of Hygiene” LP)

Posted on Pop Lib 1 June 2014.

8. Lucy Hunter – A Bottled Brain (The Attic singles club)

Posted on Pop Lib 25 October 2014.

9. The Canals – Desperado (The Attic singles club)

Posted on Pop Lib on 2 December 2014.

10. Peter Escott – My Heaven, My Rules (Bedroom Suck – from “The Long O” LP)

Posted on Pop Lib 26 September 2014

Shunkan recording

Shunkan’s ‘Strawberry Hair’ is from an EP-length release which has been out since June. It’s a track from シュンカン I

It’s a departure from the debut EP “Honey, Blood & Milk” in that, in place of the DIY soaring ‘shoegaze’ pop, it features atmospheric electronica soundscapes, like something from a perpetual after-midnight world. But it’s no departure from “Honey, Blood & Milk” in the way it subverts a genre and creates something original and magical from what may have appeared familiar components at first.

In case you haven’t followed earlier PopLib posts on this artist, Shunkan is Marina Sakimoto, a 20 year old resident of Invercargill, but originally from Los Angeles (weird as that all sounds). Her band version of Shunkan is currently a three-guitar shoegaze maelstrom when they play live. But, as ‘Strawberry Hair’, the “Honey, Blood & Milk” EP and the ‘SUMMERBLONDE’ collection below demonstrate, Marina has an uncanny talent for crafting sublime & other-worldly pop of all shades and styles.

If you want an idea of just how good Marina Sakimoto (Shunkan) is, then check out her home recordings and demos collected here as SUMMERBLONDE and particularly the striking “goodbye future nothing, for you do not exist” or the following track “youuu”.

Marina has a ‘Spark My Potential’ fundraising campaign to gather enough to record Shunkan’s debut album “The Pink Noise” and acquire some basic backline gear to tour with. It’s a realistic amount – just $5,000 – and she’s half way there already with a few more weeks to run. Your commitment of even a modest amount towards it can help get it over the line and help ensure the album happens.

I have committed to it – Marina is a songwriter & musician I’d love to hear more from. I admire her ambition and determination and also her desire to have control over her recordings through being able to pay for them herself.

The weather is nasty here right now. Heavy rain, threat of hail. So ‘Hail’ by Shunkan is the song for Day 29 of the song-a-day-May NZ Music month madness.

I’m also posting this today because Shunkan will debut as a 4 piece band at Chick’s Hotel tonight (Thursday 29 May) on their way north to shows in Auckland at the weekend. By now the story of Marina Sakimoto relocating from Los Angeles to Invercargill, where she recorded this EP and then had it released via adventurous UK label Art Is Hard Records is probably well known… I’m intrigued how a band will handle these songs.

This song ‘Hail’, with it’s dark fuzzed out swooping guitar and soaring vocal, evokes the spirit of early My Bloody Valentine and also Sigur Ros at times. It’s glorious. I bought a copy of m.b.v., the 20-years-in-the-making My Bloody Valentine album on release day last year. I have now played Shunkan’s cassette EP more times than I have played that m.b.v. album. There’s a freshness, lightness, and excitement here lacking from My Bloody Valentine’s over-thought and mixed-into-submission recent album.

Shunkan (from the Shunkan Facebook page)

Shunkan (from the Shunkan Facebook page)

Day 5 of the May month of NZ music madness comes from Invercargill NZ via Los Angeles USA and Weymouth UK.

I introduced Shunkan (pronounced ‘Shoonkan’) here a few weeks ago. At the time I was intrigued by the fully-realised bedroom DIY noise-pop emanating from this 20 year old Invercargill resident. I know a bit more now. While the fact she re-located to Invercargill from LA does help explain the music a bit more, it also adds to the mystery & intrigue.

In any case THIS is the song which first grabbed my attention when her Weymouth, UK based label Art is Hard Records sent me a streaming link to the whole EP last month.

The voice and noises here initially are such a huge reminder of the odd beauty of that first Dear Time’s Waste EP but ‘Dust From Your Eyes’ soon goes off-road into a perfect feral wilderness of noise & emotion.

The cassette tape release is sold out already but the digital release happens today 5 May (UK time). A bargain.

Invercargill is the home of Shunkan – my latest favourite local lo-fi bedroom pop magician. That is no real surprise to me. Invercargill has produced much musical talent over the years and promptly exported it to the nearest centres of civilisation. I say that as someone brought up there who forged my own musical identity as a teenager in the front room of a pale-blue weatherboard villa on a windswept cabbage tree lined street and played in a band to no-one in an empty hall over the road from the prison.

I first heard Shunkan (there’s a whole EP of glorious and extraordinary bedroom fuzzy lo fi pop like this) via Art Is Hard Records in the UK. Inexplicably they’d received a demo from Shunkan and liked it enough to release it (limited edition cassette).

‘Wash You Away’ is just one aspect of what’s on the EP. I heard enough reference points in all the songs to wonder how Marina Sakimoto (who is Shunkan) could absorb such a range of diverse possible influences and then turn them into something so distinctive and original. There is some great sonic experimentation going on in the other tracks which reminded me in places of the wooziness of early My Bloody Valentine and the rapture of Sigur Ros but also the quiet reflective spaces and dreamy wonder of our own Dear Time’s Waste. But that’s what can happen when an imagination is left in relative isolation with a guitar and a microphone and something to record the results on.

Rush hour Friday in Invercargill

Rush hour Friday in Invercargill