March 30 2022
Lullatone’s curated playlist pedestals some of the duo’s favourite musicians based in Nagoya.
While the music of Nagoya-based duo Lullatone often exhibits a certain comforting cosiness, there is also much more to it than meets the eye. Shawn James Seymour and Yoshimi Tomida are renowned for making tunes that are exceptionally pretty: filled with softly mesmerising loops, carefully-selected instrumentation and faint, entrancing vocals.
But despite album titles with knowing nods to muzak like Elevator Music (2011) and Music for Museum Gift Shops (2019), the duo’s music is terrifically engaging. Whether in the small details (like a fractured loop or a display of gentle experimentalism) or the wider picture (sumptuous layering and impressive variety of instrumentation), Lullatone are constantly reminding listeners that theirs is music far more complex and accomplished than simple easy-listening.
For almost two decades Lullatone has been sinking listeners into new worlds of pop, electronic and ambient music, so we got together with Seymour to curate a playlist for The Glow. He chose a theme concerning music from the city of Nagoya, where the duo are currently based, in turn revealing his perspectives on and position within a thriving musical community.
Jon no San is one of my favourite bands ever. They have a few CDs and CD-Rs out but they are kind of hard to get a hold of. The other day they were playing at a festival here in Nagoya and Yoshimi’s little brother asked me if they had already started or if they were still practicing like soundcheck.
I think that is the perfect description of them. Really pretty melodies but buried under lots of chaos and abstraction. You can never be quite sure what is going on with them. Each concert sounds totally different and even the members change from day to day. In a world dictated by consistency and algorithms, how rad is that?
Kyoko-san plays the daxophone which an instrument that makes sound by bowing strips of wood. It is so rare that when I typed it out right now, Siri underlined it in red like it is a misspelled word!
What is crazy is how she can get these tones that sound like singing from running bits of string over dead trees. It is like she is unlocking the voice of nature or something!
Recently he moved to Fukui, but I think we can still count Skrew Kid in this Nagoya list. When he was recording his first album (which this song is from), he lived across the street from me and Yoshimi. We all ate dinner together a couple of times a week.
His thumb bends backwards in a strange way which gives him this really special way of strumming the guitar. Like… all of the low notes come just a little bit later than you might expect. I love it!
He is also a member of All of the World, which was featured on the Glow before too.
Listen to Am Shhara on Bandcamp
To be super honest, I don’t know much about Am Shhara. But, that rules. Nagoya has such a small scene and it feels like everybody has known everyone forever. It is exciting to hear something by someone new.
Koike-san has such a nice voice. Really mellow and smooth. His guitar playing is so pretty too.
The other day I played at an opening exhibition of his oil paintings here in Nagoya. He also makes manga and did illustrations for lots of stuff including unko-no-drill. Is there anything this guy can’t do?
Asana was the first band I ever saw play in Nagoya. The back story is cool too. Asano-san, the mastermind behind it, grew up in a house with his dad traveling all over Asia buying antiques and then selling them in a shop here in Nagoya. As he got bigger he went on the trips too and that is where he picked up the gamelan in this song. He uses lots of other instruments from other countries as well and mixed them up in a super interesting, unexpected way. It doesn’t sound like “world music”, it just sounds like music using instruments from all over the world. Does that make sense?
Anyway fast forward about 20 years and now he runs a shop (called Casablanca), they have really nice laid back concerts there too. And when the weather is nice artists can play on the roof overlooking the outskirts of the city and a beautiful cherry blossom-lined road. It is my favourite spot to watch bands and get a sun-tan at the same time.