With an aggressive lyrical style, CHARISMA.COM challenge your J-pop expectations on this new vinyl release…
Although they had been friends at school, it wasn’t until Itsuka and Gonchi left that the pair entertained the idea of doing music together. The result was CHARISMA.COM – a curious combo of electronic music and rap that took inspiration from Japanese hip-hop outfits such as Astro.
Charisma.com’s own particular style of electro-rap is fuelled by a particular aggressive approach to the lyrical content, such as their classic tune ‘Hate’. The insistent electropop beat of ‘Hate’ underpins a litany of bitching, which rapidly became Charisma.com’s stock in trade. The belligerent approach that Charisma.com employ also carries over to their visual style, as the madness that is the ‘Hate’ video testifies.
Hip-hop hasn’t had quite the cultural impact in Japan that it’s had in the west – and the number of female-fronted hip-hop outfits has been something of a niche within a niche.
Perhaps one of the best-known outfits is Halcali, a female duo who share a lot of similarities with Charisma.com. In 2003, Halcali managed to crack the Oricon charts with their debut album Halcali Bacon reaching No. 5, which probably helped pave the way for acts such as Charisma.com.
Ai Ai Syndrome was originally released in 2013 via indie label Lastrum. The EP collected their early songs (including ‘Hate’) that often had curious inspirations.
Both Itsuka and Gonchi work day jobs in offices, which has a bearing on the lyrical content of the tracks, such as ‘OLHero’ which revolves around championing the women at offices who have to endure stress and poor pay. Often it’s just simply everyday office conversations that provide the catalyst.
Ai Ai Syndrome’s musical foundations were built around requests issued to other musicians, over which Itsuko would add her own lyrics. The result is just over 30 minutes of crunchy, percussive tunes.
The EP includes tracks such as ‘Automade’, which is a collage of electronic rhythms and rapid-fire rapping. The electropop wonder that is ‘Menherabusu’ offers up a wealth of catchy hooks, marking out one of the best tunes on the EP. Meanwhile, ‘OLHero’ is a much smoother affair with its funk rhythms and warm synths.
This new vinyl edition of Ai Ai Syndrome comes courtesy of French label record label Specific Recordings, who also did similar duties on a vinyl issue of BisKaidan previously. Once again, the label has produced a nicely packaged record on 180gm vinyl, which is limited to 500 copies.
Charisma.com offer up something very different from traditional J-pop and this European release is sure to win over some new fans.
Ai Ai Syndrome is out now on Specific Recordings. Limited to 500 copies 180gm vinyl release.