Thursday, February 9, 2012

LIGHT AND SHADE - Trial Product CD (1991)

01. S·M·D
02. Hyper
03. Life
04. Plastic
05. Heaven

Hara / Tohru Hara (vocals)
Funaba / Shigeru Funaba (guitar)
Die-Go / Daigo Mikami (bass)
Yuki / Katsuyuki Akai (drums)

Released: 1991
Label: Zazzle Records
Catalogue number: UKZZ-1028
Format: CD

Lenght: 27:27
Bitrate: 320 kbps

As an astute friend and old-time reader pointed out - there's been a hella lack of visual kei material posted since the restart of of this blog. When I first started HABIT OF SEX back in 2007 (holy!), oldschool visual kei was the prime focus, but as my taste either progressed or regressed as time went by, so did the contents of this blog. And considering some of the later posts, god only knows where we're heading towards in the future:

But for now, it's time to remedy the VK situation and to do so I bring you the sole release by a band called LIGHT & SHADE and their "Trial Product" mini-album released in 1991 on Zazzle Records. The band also appeared on the Zazzle compilation "Operation Z" together with VISION 99 (which you might recognize from the "Tokyo Dead Line" LP) as well as labelmates THE OTHERSIDE and the great VELVET ENDROIT. In addition, LIGHT & SHADE's singer Tohru Hara was the first vocalist of none other than EX-ANS. An unverified rumour has it that there exists a bootleg EX-ANS cassette with tracks being sung by Hara rather than later vocalist Koji Suzuki (a.k.a. RAY).

As for the label, Zazzle Records was, as far as I've understood, the VK and VK-ish metal subdivision of the rather large independent label (and distributor?) UK Project. In my mind, Zazzle carved out a small little niche of their own in the budding VK genre, infusing a certain something in the bands they released that put them slightly apart from the rest of the early 90:s VK scene. Exactly what constitutes this something is kind of hard to define, but nevertheless I think it is aptly displayed by just LIGHT & SHADE (as well as their sort of kindred spirits VELVET ENDROIT).

For those of you familiar with VELVET ENDROIT's awesome "Dogmatism" CD, you'll notice that there are some striking similarities between it and "Trial Product". Both albums start out with a shorter song featuring electronic drums ...not to mention that both tracks have very similar titles (ENDROIT's "S·A·D" and "S·M·D" by LIGHT & SHADE). A faster, more straightforward song follows on both albums ("No Life" and "Hyper", respectively) and both groups round off their releases with a lengthier tune with psychedelic overtones. Homage or plagiarism? Who knows ...and who cares!? Not only does the two bands and their respective records rock - both of the groups manages to carve out an identity of their own, despite the similarities.

I'm not sure I have very much more to expound on in regards to "Trial Product"; the music on it has plenty to say all on it's own. Suffice to say it's a great little (by the way, is it just me or isn't mini-albums the best format by far for VK releases?) slice of new wave-tinged visual kei. All tracks are good, but were I to choose favorites, I'd nominate "Hyper" and "Heaven" - the first for its hard, driving pace and tense verses loosening up into a paradoxically subtle yet orgiastic refrain, and the second for it's feather light air of blissful melancholy. Fuck yeah I'mma kiss you in heaven!

Even though I'm still a big fan of the (early) visual kei genre, I fear that this blog will continue to veer rather in the direction of even more 80:s stuff in the new wave/synth/post-punk vein well as other horrors. Nevertheless, VK posts will still pop up occasionally. In the meantime, I'll be contributing stuff to the eminent Evil~en~Lucifer blog - THE go-to place for ALL your VK needs. Check it out if you haven't already.

Finally, a belated welcome to 2012 to all my readers. I hope you'll stick around as I believe I have some truly ridiculous awesome stuff for you in store.

Divshare / Mediafire

Best dressed in VK 1991.

PS. The correct name for this band is of course "LIGHT & SHADE" rather than "LIGHT AND SHADE". For some reason Blogspot wouldn't allow me to use the & sign in the title field. My apologies for any confusion.