Song of the Day: Ichiko Hashimoto “Naja Naja”
Japanese indie music alum, Ichiko Hashimoto, delivers a wonderfully bent alt-punk read of read of her own French language should-be classic, “Naja Naja”. The cut is taken from Hashimoto‘s genre defying 1984 release, Beauty and finds the chanteuse pairing some edgy vocal contortions with an edgy post-punk guitar line, some clever string arrangements and some decidedly avant-garde synth fills. The song bristles with a certain punk energy and attitude while still being outrageously tuneful.
Hashimoto‘s quirky vocal delivery, however, is really what pushes this track to the top. She manages to combine a certain playful, coquettish delivery with a real force of personality. Of course, while the rest of Beauty is also wonderful, nothing else on it sounds even remotely like “Naja Naja”. Instead, the record contains everything from neo-classical piano music to ambient electronic soundscapes to even bossa nova, all of which are handled with the same intelligence and force of personality.
Ichiko Hashimoto is probably best known today as a composer of anime scores, but she got her start with the brilliant Japanese avant-electro-soul two-piece, Colored Music, who were one of the key acts to feature on the storied (and sadly now defunct) Japanese label, Better Days. Hashimoto is both a talented (and eclectic) singer as well as a pianist. She was born in Kobe, Japan in 1952 and got her start as a jazz fusion pianist before starting to sing as well. She remains one of the more interesting and eclectic cult figures in Japanese popular music.