We are very honoured to exclusively unveil the new single ‘Meet The Sun (feat. Shêm Allen)’ from Brisbane’s enigmatic duo Shugorei as well the exciting immersive video. I first saw Shugorei at the brilliant 4000 Records second anniversary gig in Brisbane back in September 2021, and my impression at the time was of ethereally beautiful ambient sounds with live vibraphone mixing with synths and percussion, creating absorbing sonic and ambient textures. Their new single therefore comes as a bit of a surprise – a very peasant one – with its animalistic, visceral throb and percussive dynamism.
A pounding, insistent rhythm sets the scene like a pulse beating in our head, with chanting – a call to arms – over the top, before the vibraphone sets a delicate arpeggiated pattern over the top. Splashing instrumentation filters through like dappled sunshine while the vocals soar and strings – from a lush string arrangement, performed by members of Black Square Quartet – push up to the surface. This is an exciting dynamic track filed with vitality and life, subtle and delicate yet delivered with a kick.
The acoustic half of the duo, Nozomi Omote, beautifully describes the story behind the track in an exquisite piece accompanying the track – read it here – detailing her adventures that saw her move to Brisbane from Japan by herself and establishing a life there filled with music and new friends. As anyone who has moved countries can recognise, such journeys can be bittersweet as you miss the place you left behind but find ample solace in a new world. I am always reminded of Winston in ‘1984’ gazing in envy at a woman singing a state sanctioned pop song while hanging out her washing, envying her innocent happiness and ignorance of the realities of the external world in her cocoon. Travel and experience broadens the mind but makes you aware of the beauty that exists in other worlds, the places that you constantly miss and yearn for. The more you know, the less happy you are, but the more satisfying and fulfilling your life is.
Omote says, after travelling back to Japan:
Coming back, I had an important realisation. I am Japanese, I speak Japanese, but I must admit, deep down, I am now Australian. I’ve only been back in Japan a few days and I’m already missing Brisbane. When, and how did this happen? There are so many people in Tokyo. Is everyone working until they drop? Are they happy? Brisbane is somehow. . . different. . . it suits me.
These emotions and feelings bleed into the bilingual lyrics of the track and the sense of melancholy and yearning seep into the singing from Brisbane vocalist Shêm Allen, who has performed with Nonsemble, Skinny Jean and Yr Familiar. The lyrics reveal a defiance and strength where uncertainty and doubt arise:
邪魔しないで (Jama shinaide)
邪魔しないで (Jama shinaide)
You can’t stop me
I’ve already gone
See how I won’t be drowned
Or burned in the long night
By now I’ve met the sun
This is an epically ethereal and beautiful song that injects passion and longing into its very thumping beats and soaring vocals.
The accompanying video perfectly captures this pulsating vein of sounds with an ever moving capture of the band performing, interspersed with scenes of travelling across Japan. Performed by Noz Omote, Thomas Green and Shêm Allen, the video and track was composed, mixed, mastered, filmed and edited by Thomas Green with additional footage by Omote (in Tokyo/Kyoto/Kanazawa) and additional camera operation by Toby Green.
The track is out tomorrow (25 January) through the inestimable 4000 Records and will be available to stream and download here.
The name Shugoerei translates as Guardian Spirit – of which Green (the electronic half of the due) notes:
…in English, both the sound of the word Shugorei, as well as the concept of it, feels cool, whereas in Japanese I’ve come to understand there’s a kind of spooky characteristic to it, which Noz was initially worried might put people off, but she seems to have come to like it, in spite of curious reactions.
Nozomi Omote – vibraphone, percussion, bricolage, electronics, vocals
Thomas Green – composition, electronics, vocals
Featured performers on ‘Meet The Sun’
Shêm Allen – vocals
Camille Barry – violin
Dan Curro – cello
Recorded, Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Thomas Green
Feature Photograph: David Kan