To characterize music as ‘outsider,’ ‘fringe,’ or ‘outré’ implies an indirect affirmation of the division between ‘high’ and ‘low art.’ Of course, the music industry is sustained by standardized notions of aesthetic value, however, the rigidity of such have been steadily eroding over the last few decades. In our current post-poptimist moment, the stylistic signifiers of ‘outsider’ or ‘underground’ culture have been largely subsumed under the hegemonic hand of the ‘free market.’
It would seem, then, that the classification of music as ‘outsider’ in opposition to ‘pop’ is no longer applicable. What is pop is outsider and what is outsider is pop.
At the junction of this paradox is where the music of Tokyo-based artist shiwashiwa emerges. The title of their debut album proclaims I’m Here – a bold but wry self-acknowledgment. Nevertheless, it is not without warrant as shiwashiwa delivers one of the most remarkably inventive debuts in recent memory. Entirely self-produced using GarageBand, I’m Here is a work of clever, intuitive songwriting and offbeat instrumental arrangements that feels refreshingly simple and honest in today’s overwrought climate.
Today, we premiere the track “New Hometown,” a particular stand-out on an album with many gems to choose from. An exquisite harp passage, punctuated by forceful stabs of brass instrumentation, heralds shiwashiwa’s soft, effortless cadence in a display of faux-baroque fanfare. As a thumping rhythm enters the mix, the various orchestral elements coalesce around shiwashiwa’s captivating vocals, which alternate between spoken word and melodic refrain. Quite the grand entrance for an “outsider.”
I’m Here is out 24/07/20 on Primordial Void. Pre-order it here.