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Ever heard about a new band, but had no idea where to start listening? Breaker Japan’s resident music expert, Luke, emerges from a dark corner of the office to help you out. Every month, he’ll be handing out his thoughts on the most original musical acts in Japan. In a musical landscape usually associated with girl groups and anime robot singers, these are the artists that make the Japanese music scene come to life.

live in concert

LITE

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LITE is another one of Tokyo’s staple instrumental bands. It’s not rare to catch them playing in the bustling megalopolis with a solid pace of at least one show a month. You can even find them playing in some of the smaller pokey “live houses” (or music venues to me and you) around the hipster playground Shimokitazawa. Due to this, I have seen them a handful of times and every time a sense of intrigue sets in and binge listening commences.

Formed in 2003, and still holding onto the original members, LITE is made up of Nobuyuki Takeda on guitar, Kozo Kusumoto on synths and second guitar, Jun Izawa on bass and Akinori Yamamoto on drums. The communication is fluid between members creating a tight, interlaced fusion of instruments enabling unabashed progressive math rock.

Armed with 5 albums and a dash of EP and singles, LITE have a wealth of music to delve into and squeeze in your playlist alongside bands such as Tera Melos, American Football and Battles. In recent years, they are making more of a name for themselves outside of Japan through regular touring in America and the UK. Wherever you are in the world, catching one of their powerful energetic performances will leave its mark.

Melody is carefully balanced between the two guitarists. Nobuyuki hammers out lively riffs exacerbated by piling on loops. Kozo fills out sound on his synthesizes and battles back on his guitar. However, it always seems that the core is the most captivating. Bassist Jun is a master with his right hand, plucking and slapping with speed and precision that is hard to ignore. Of course, Akinori on drums always has his back with groove and technicality that glues this impressive four-piece together.

Armed with 5 albums and a dash of EP and singles, LITE have a wealth of music to delve into.

The band is gearing up for their 15th anniversary of their first album Filmlets, celebrating with a re-release on cd and limited edition vinyl. For no particular reason, no songs from that album appears on the following recommendations, however, if you enjoy these songs, why not splash out and treat yourself by supporting a truly awesome band.

 

Square

The first recommendation is the appropriately named “Square” from LITE’s latest album Cubic. This song displays their ability to use a simple electronic motif to allow the songs progression to dip in and out of funky head-nodding rhythms and serene indie vibes.

 

Prism

Next up, “Prism”, another song from Cubic that sits a bit later on in the album but stands out with its distinctly math rock features of syncopated rhythms and deceptive melody patterns. Let those layered guitars buzz around your head while trying to make sense of that annoyingly off beat snare. Ladies and gentlemen…math rock.

 

Echolocation

This next song, off the 4th album Installation, seems to be a staple of their set list when performing live. And rightly so. It’s always fascinating to watch a band precisely stack the layers one by one through pure synchronization of each member.

 

Bond

Another song from Installation, simply named “Bond”, features a twiddly guitar intro that builds and builds leaving you wondering where it’s leading until you’re hit a crazy flourish of drums. Oh, how you tease!

 

Rabbit

Now to wrap up, I leave you with a song off their third album For All the Innocence, “Rabbit.” Possibly named as such because of the happy, bouncy piano motif that forms the basis of this song. It may be wrong to call a rock song “cute”, however, this one could just be.