In Focus? by Shugo Tokumaru | 644110025029 | CD | Barnes & Noble
In Focus?

In Focus?

by Shugo Tokumaru
     
 

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With each of his albums, Shugo Tokumaru slowly developed an ever more polished and detailed style, as well as a bigger following: his third album, Port Entropy, made the Top 40 of Japan's Oricon album chart, and this album was mastered at Abbey Road. These could be signs of a dull "maturity" in some artists, but In Focus? is

Overview

With each of his albums, Shugo Tokumaru slowly developed an ever more polished and detailed style, as well as a bigger following: his third album, Port Entropy, made the Top 40 of Japan's Oricon album chart, and this album was mastered at Abbey Road. These could be signs of a dull "maturity" in some artists, but In Focus? is so irrepressible that Tokumaru's small steps toward the mainstream only serve to give these delightful songs the clearest, cleanest setting possible. There's no denying that many of these tracks are among his most sophisticated -- or as sophisticated as songs like "Poker," which combines breezy, Brazilian-tinged pop with slide flutes and backing vocals that sound like they were chirped by cartoon birds, could possibly be. Elsewhere, there's a grown-up ease to the way "Ord Gate"'s guitars and percussion fall into place without any obvious effort (in fact, Tokumaru spent painstaking months layering the sounds on In Focus? until they were just so), and even more ornate songs such as "Helicite (LeSeMoDe)" reveal their good bones in the artful chord sequences. This mix of strong songwriting and meticulous sound-crafting only strengthens the comparisons between Tokumaru and his fellow countryman Cornelius, and tracks like "Katachi," with its loopy acoustic guitars and sparkling keyboards, sound a little like the veteran producer on a particularly folky day. Like Cornelius, Tokumaru puts a dazzling array of sounds on display throughout In Focus?; perhaps the reason the album's title ends with a question mark is because what catches the listener's attention changes with repeated listening. The filigrees on these songs are just as engaging as the tunes themselves: "Gamma" is a feast for the ears in just over 90 seconds, with marimba, xylophone, toy piano, and rubber duckie squeaks wrapped into its kaleidoscopic swirl, while "Balloon" maintains its breezy freshness even with dalliances into ragtag junkyard percussion. Elsewhere, Tokumaru delves into pure flights of fancy on the cartoonish "Pah-Paka" -- another example of how he crafts the rare kind of gleefulness that's inviting rather than annoying -- and also delivers mischievous country-pop with "Down Down" alongside one of his simplest and most poignant ballads, "Tightrope." Some of his finest and widest-ranging music yet, In Focus? offers charming proof that a more accessible approach doesn't necessarily spell creative death for a musician, especially one as freewheeling as Tokumaru.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/22/2013
Label:
Polyvinyl Records
UPC:
0644110025029
catalogNumber:
250
Rank:
112900

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