Nana Yamato - Before Sunrise Music Album Reviews

Nana Yamato - Before Sunrise Music Album Reviews
On her debut, this Japanese 20-year-old takes inspiration from indie rock to craft lonely, glowing bedroom pop that relishes in the ecstatic possibilities of sound. 

At 16, Nana Yamato fell in love with her first indie record. Among the bins of central Tokyo’s Big Love, a record store specializing in independent music from the U.S., UK, and EU—where J-Pop and Japanese artists run scarce—she discovered a Danish punk rock band named Iceage. For years after, she spent after-school evenings flicking through the shelves, doodling and doing homework alongside the new sounds before retreating back home to make her own music in her bedroom, where she began experimenting with guitar, layered vocals, and MIDI beats. Yamato’s story came full circle a few years later, when she was discovered by Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts.
Now, with the release of Yamato’s debut LP Before Sunrise via Savage’s label Dull Tools, the record store she still frequents looks out toward the Japan National Stadium which looms, unoccupied. Originally built for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, the 68,000-capacity stadium spent years in renovation for the 2020 Summer Games, only to go wasted and unused. Where the construction site once held a great, globalized fantasy—“a piece of time” where “the rope of the blue crane” reached out for “the hope of the balling crane,” as Nana sings in Japanese on album highlight “Gaito”—it now functions as little more than a dead monument in a city largely devoid of statues and visual history. Twice ravaged by war, Tokyo has a record for rebuilding itself with remarkable speed, leaving behind scant reminders of destruction and lost futures. Nana’s music is a whimsical expression of the city’s peculiar urban psycho-geography; a metropolis in which collective memories have been made to replace concrete monuments.

Written during lockdown in Tokyo, Before Sunrise considers the entangled relationship between the self and the city. The lyrics emulate an act of disappearing into the streets. “I don’t want to see,” she sings on “If”; “I kill my voice” on “Gaito”; “The only thing left, my desires” on “Under the Cherry Moon,” before segueing into a field recording of rushing and chatter on a busy Shibuyan street. Closer “The Day Song” is overwhelmed by a haze of synths and nostalgia, as adult Yamato imagines herself walking down the streets where she played as a child, knowing that time and age only serve to estrange her from these memories.

While Beyond Sunrise is somewhat indebted to the Western indie rock Yamato forged her musical identity on—the exuberant horns recall some of Iceage’s grander moments; the zigzagged synths occasionally sound Johnny Jewel-adjacent —her sharp ear for melody and dynamic transitions transcend her cumulative influences. On “Burning Desire,” she subjects her layers of grooves to a pendulum ride between ebullience and urgency. One moment, it feels fanciful; the next it sounds as though the world’s going down on a sinking ship. There’s a sheer joy to it, though. Yamato almost makes music the way kids play with toys, relishing in the ecstatic possibilities of sound.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Nana Yamato - Before Sunrise Music Album Reviews Nana Yamato - Before Sunrise Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, February 15, 2021 Rating: 5

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