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INDIE POP

He'll get a sound out of almost anything

October 21, 2008
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Shugo Tokumaru

Exit (Almost Gold)

ESSENTIAL "Sanganichi"

Shugo Tokumaru plays more than 50 instruments on his third album, most in a major key and all at a clipped, clockwork cadence. The 28-year-old Tokyo resident has said his source material here was a pile of old Beatles cassettes and some Japanese pop, but "Exit" is most accurately described as a symphony of found noise.

Everything but the kitchen sink gets tossed into the cauldron: the ding of a fork against an ashtray, the bright peal of a doorbell, the martial machinations of a wind-up toy, the twinkly Fisher Price piano line, the chirp of a wooden flute, the chorus of kindergarten students. (Note to indie musicians, from Panda Bear to MGMT: enough with the singing kindergarten students.) In this way, Tokumaru's preoccupations aren't so different from those of Psapp, a British duo that makes lovely melodies out of bed springs and emptied bottles.

"Exit," which was mixed and recorded on a laptop, using a popular program called Pro Tools, is a tribute to the unexpected beauty of everyday things. It's also a defense of playful digression for digression's sake alone. On the lilting "Clocca," a careful rock strut slides toward Eastern-tinged ragga; later, the lovely "La La Radio" implodes into '60s-pop sparkle. "Button" clanks. "Hidamari" clicks. And "Sanganichi," the best track on "Exit," draws to a close over a single, lonely string note.

Close your eyes, and you can picture Tokumaru in his apartment, surrounded by a teetering pile of toys, a microphone in his hand. [Matthew Shaer]

He'll get a sound out of anything

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