Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Shorthand Phonetics - Fujioka Tsubasa [single edit]

Hear The Track Here

I first met the masters of the Amazing Long and Obtuse, Declarative and Informative song titles (aka Shorthand Phonetics) when I first started reviewing on SC what seems like forever ago. A lot has changed since then, we've all got considerably older, but poor ol' Shorthand Phonetics has also got considerably smaller. From a brawlin' yawlin' Indonesian five peice with a penchant for punk pop, these days the band reposes in the body of one Ababil Ashari - for my money the main songwriter and influence behind the group anyway. It was his songs and his vocals (Green Apple Garden, All Too Platonic et al) that first won over some of the more skeptical reviewers, including me. We all gave them the same amount of crap for how noisy and messy the recordings were but none of us could deny the powers of the songs they helped limp along to.

It wasn't perfect but the spirit of it sure was.

I've already reviewed one track from this new SP; New Adventures in Meta Songwriting (February 2007), which I didn't like all that much. To me it didn't seem finished, and that is never a good thing. All the hallmarks of any Shorthand Phonetics track were there; the Buzzcocks sounding vocals, the crashing guitars and yes even lots and lots of noise. Ultimately though I didn't feel the song itself was that strong so - to be honest - I approached this new track with some misgiving. The endearing image I carry away from the first listen was shouting at the track to 'fekkin speed up'. It took no notice, of course, and blithly went upon it's merry way cavorting in the time honoured Shorthand Phonetics fashion. If you like that fashion, and I do very much, you will love this track which to my ears is a welcome return to a familiar sound and structure - and no, it does work at the right speed. My ears didn't there at first and neither will yours.

For me, as someone who has followed this artist for years, there is an added level of sophistication to this track I have never ehard from them before - which is why it took me a while to get the track. Stop laughing!! I can use the word sophisticated about this band - so long as we aren't talking about attitude, style, sound or performance. all of which are the much loved shambles we expect from this band. The level of songwriting has become much more sophisticated and consequently this is a track it will take a while to pick the bones out of. I agree it isn't pretty, and it can be rather quite brutish but for Shorthand Phonetics fans (and there are many) this is exactly what we require from them. Again, the song isn't as immediate as in the past, but it most certainly there in a different, maybe more interesting form. Always one of the most original bands, Shorthand Phonetics make a playground that dedicated listeners will recognise instantly - despite the roughness of the production, performance (puleeeze fix those leads) and mix.

Punk pop?? Whaddat?? Whatever it is, it gets a Highly Recommended.

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