Artist Spotlight: Pizzicato Five, music

Artist Spotlight: Pizzicato Five (week two)

Every month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – regularly one per week, but as this first column is so close to the end of the month, this debut feature will feature two per post.

Last week we looked at P5’s beginnings as a larger group, now in this week’s entry we’ll be looking at a couple songs from their days as the duo of Maki Nomiya and Yasuharu Konishi. The two-piece outfit provided some of the tightest output in the long history of Pizzicato Five, so join with us as we look at two choice selections from this period.

Taken from their 1997 album Happy End of the World, “My Baby Portable Sound” (a remix of their 1996 single “Baby Portable Rock“, also a great song) represents Pizzicato Five’s more experimental, loop-based side in top form – the raucous drums assisting in a rare composition made entirely up of vintage elements (check out that dub reverb on the vocals around 3 minutes in) that sounds like something completely new – Pizzicato Five, in other words. It’s certainly light on the Maki Nomiya – all she says is “baby, baby, baby” on it – but Konishi’s production is in top form. While working from his own source material on this track, Konishi would go on to remix many a song for other artists – a future Artist Spotlight will highlight some high points of his work outside of P5.

The waning days of Pizzicato Five were bizarre to say the least – their final album, Çà et là du Japon, hardly had any contributions from Nomiya at all, and their final releases featured oddities such as the clunky hip-hop inspired “À Tokyo” – a bold new direction from a band with its best days ahead of it, these last few albums and EPs were not. However, 1999’s Nonstop to Tokyo EP, title song featured above, predates this creative decline, and the upbeat single is classic Pizzicato Five. Recalling the best days of the Nomiya/Konishi partnership, “Nonstop to Tokyo” is a true dedication to the jet set of yesterday; and the perfect place to end the retrospective, before things got weird in the days that followed.

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