One of the saddest things to happen upon, whenever I’m looking for something new to listen to, is finding out that the artists I discovered for myself has actually stopped making music altogether. It makes me feel like I missed out on being able to appreciate them while they were still out there doing their thing. Equally as sad is following a singer or a band and then getting the heads up one day that they’re going to cease any and all activities — more so if they’re artists that you’ve grown attached to over a long period of time.
It’s sad, but it happens, as is the nature of the beast that is the music industry. It happens for a multitude of reasons really; from band members having creative differences and maligning priorities; of course personal matters are a factor too; and really just how the market is for Japanese music and music in general. Artists that don’t get picked up by the mainstream end up having to swim against the current of things and really it’s just a harsh truth for those looking to make it big by getting signed to a major label, what with the over-saturation of talents that exists today.
All that coincides with the very real reality that some bands and artists just… go away, BUT one if anything though, their music for sure lives on — and in giving honor to some of these people for their work out of fond memory, allow me to feature some of my favorite musicians whose music I at least believe we should continue to appreciate even after their time in the spotlight, no matter how long or short it may have been.
UchuConbini (宇宙コンビニ )
“Saving the best for last” isn’t really a precept that I like subscribing to in any sort of affair (partly the reason why I don’t like making “top n” posts), but I have to make an exception this time, lest this wonderful band gets passed by if I put it in any other place in this list. I’ve featured a band called JYOCHO in my monthly round-ups a couple of times already, and for those of you who liked their work, allow me to introduce to you UchuConbini; the veritable predecessor to JYOCHO. Nakagawa Daijiro (the brains and the heart of both bands) initially sought out to popularize math rock with his masterful fingerstyle, along with Emi-choco’s pleasantly breathy singing style and Nasuo’s impeccable sense of rhythmic percussion through UchuConbini — which in turn got them a massive following both in and outside Japan (particularly in the West) in the span of only a couple of months. The band, however, came at a crossroads with regard to how each of them with to proceed, followed by a lengthy period of inactivity that in turn led to them breaking up.
Kominami Yasuha (小南泰葉)
Kominami Yasuha was, at one point in time rubbing shoulders with the likes of SCANDAL, miwa, and even Nakagawa Shouko. A punk/pop-rock princess armed with some rad guitar skills and unique vocal stylings reminiscent of Shiina Ringo of TokyoJihen fame — it would seem that Kominami Yasuha had the brightest of futures ahead of her as one to carry the torch to these otherwise powerhouse female figureheads in Japanese pop rock. But, come 2015 she all but vanishes in the airwaves. It is still currently unclear whether she has undergone hiatus (as there was no formal announcement on her end) and while her latest social media updates see her being on some sort of tour with LiSA, it does not appear as though she’s part of her musical entourage. She may not be completely gone from the scene, but there was some significant radio silence on her end to warrant thinking as much.
This one stings a little bit more than most of the bands that are on this list, but only because they never got as big as they probably could’ve been given a more proper set of circumstances. Pop-py Light Rock is way too crowded a genre to stand out in, and while ATLANTIS AIRPORT did enjoy a fair bit of notoriety from their six-year old stint, they just couldn’t manage to break through the mainstream. They never explicitly said why they were breaking up, but I reckon that must’ve been a huge part of it. Of course, I could be wrong (I hope I am) and they’re just sorting some personal things out on their end, but for now ATLANTIS AIRPORT has taken their last flight. In a bit of a tongue-in-cheek farewell, “AA” released their final track entitled “For Now” which everyone can both stream and download freely on their site. Ironically, it’s their best song to date.
aquarifa was one of the bands that got me into listening to Japanese music on the regular, and at the time when I was just starting to get my feet wet they were just coming off the heels of their media debut. Suffice it to say I was ecstatic to have found a band to follow right as they got signed. After what would’ve been three years of hearing nothing from them I decided to check and see what was going on with them (like maybe they were on tour on something) only for me to find out that they were in the process of disbanding. aquarifa went through some style changes over the course of their release with regard to their sound, starting out as more of a progressive rock outfit and ending up sounding more pop towards the end of their run — and while I’d attribute that to their versatility more than anything, one could also argue that they had trouble establishing their own sound.
chouchou merged syrups.
I’ll always treat chouchou merged syrups. as Ling Tosite Sigure’s kid sister of a band, and I’m sure a lot of people who are familiar with the latter would agree that this is no small feat of a comparison to be achieved, and likelier still that people would agree with such a sentiment. Admittedly though, I wasn’t the biggest “cms.” fan when I first started listening to their stuff. Their progressive rock style felt very intimidating (lol) for a casual listen and just too much to handle for someone who just got into Japanese music such as myself at time. It wasn’t until I got to listen to (and subsequently translate) their song “strobila” that I realized there was more to their craft then just trippy guitar licks. Though I would assume it was this noisy avant-garde approach of theirs that evidently steered their course away from the mainstream. Which to me is a shame, seeing how much people opened up to Ling Tosite in recent years, but I suppose that in itself is the bane of being compared to such highly touted musicians.
Tasteful “angry” rock is hard to come by as it is, more so one fronted by a lady with such a strong vocal presence as Shibuya Masako, so it was definitely a hard blow to take in when I heard that the MAMADRIVE went through some creative differences before ultimately calling it quits with one another. As the only group here that I’d consider as having a bit of an experimental rock side to them, you’ll be quick to realize how polarizing this band was both with their unorthodox musical offerings as well as the racey imagery they chose to fashion their band with; sorta giving them an “adult band” kind of feel (you’ll get what I mean as you listen along to their songs). Of course, it’d be easier to just call them weird overall (xD) and I don’t think would’ve minded so long as fans wanted it. Whether or not the fans did want it though was the real clincher.
I came into Itsue as a fan of Mizuki’s harrowing vocals, that at the time had been put on full display by Sawano Hiroyuki in his work for the Aldnoah.Zero soundtrack (some of you may’ve unknowingly became a fan of hers thanks to this popular number from a couple of years back). Her resounding reverberation, akin to metallic pipes and woodwind instruments (to use a Kajiura Yuki analogy), is nothing short of addictive — and in a band setting, the effect is two-fold if not more. Itsue fancy themselves as a bit of a slow rock ensemble, who describe their sound as a mix of “dramatic and dark, beautiful, soft, solitary, strong, [and] agitato”. In a statement they released over their official website, the band attributed their decision to go their separate ways to their views not aligning with one another with regard to their future endeavors.
FuyuSuruNeko (浮遊ｽﾙ猫 )
FuyuSuruNeko‘s appeal for me has always been the queer dissonance of the two vocals present in this band; namely the strong and balladic stylings of Sahara and Yagawa Ichiru’s light and airy tones — coupled with what I would personally call some nice and “spunky” pop/rock, making for just a refreshing sound over all. The girls also had character and an aura of attitude (like, an “edgy teen” kind of vibe) going for them that made them stand out in the indie scene althemore. One could argue, however, that both of them have /too much/ character which evidently led to their eventual disbandment. After coming up short in the release of their third (and ultimately last) mini-album, the two (their drummer had already left at this point) had different ideas as to where they wished to proceed in the future and with no one willing to give way, they have since gone their separate ways (hopefully in an amicable manner).
Rick Rack’s dissolution, or the reason for it rather, is one of a few where one might go “Ah. That’s actually good”. Bassist/Backing vocalist You opted to pursue her studies in lieu of further continuing band activities with drummer Natsuki and lead guitarist/vocalist Serina — the latter of whom, many consider (myself included) as the true star of the band; showcasing wicked guitar chops for a girl her age and a solid singing voice to boot. The uber-talented strings prodigy Serina (here’s her rocking out with a shamisen) has since gone on and taken her musical prowess elsewhere with a new band, but one can’t help but stop and consider what could’ve been for Rick Rack; a band that was seemed all but poised to take on the mantle of “girls rock” to be left behind by SCANDAL (then again SCANDAL went on to reign for a handful more years even up to now).
ecosystem for me will always be synonymous with “fun”, as I struggle to come up with a word more fitting for their sound. As the only band featured in this list to have performed anison not once but twice for some fairly popular shows, it stands to reason that ecosystem’s decision to halt further activities was never out of any lack of star power. Sort-of in line with how Rick Rack’s “break up” went down, lead singer Meg took on a different life venture that rendered her virtually unable to participate in any sort of band activity; that of motherhood. Following the announcement of an indefinite maternity leave from the music scene (so as to care for her newborn), the band very peacefully split up thereafter, after coming to turns with the fact that without their vocalist they wouldn’t really be the same band anyways.
Find anything you like? (Yes, I know. I miss ’em too. 🙁 )
Any bands/artists that you’ve followed/like over the years that have since stopped making music for whatever reason? Feel free to let me know down below~!!