Guernica (Japan)
Shinseiki e no Unga



by Bitchfork USER (61 Reviews)
May 16th, 2012 | 13 replies

Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Inside the Actors Studio... with Guernica.

We are introduced to – rather abruptly and unrelentingly, mind you – Guernica's shrill style with songs that embody oddly specific sensations the way around... Perhaps if you were able to pair the sonic equivalent of a Studio Ghibli film with a few choice hallucinations, you would be close to describing the rambunctious Shinseiki e no Unga. Horns blare with Vegas-kitsch, often blasting out with jazz flare or a classical sensibility, without throwing the listener for too much of a loop, and still remaining formal despite it being completely out-of-control. And the vocals could be likened to a cooing opera singer to a crazed cabaret performer, with an incredible range of timbres and styles that range from shrill to resounding to soaring, adding quite the amount of character to each song on display. To add to that, orchestral arrangements add to the maelstrom of ideas, with examples being the dizzying atmosphere created by the strings on the second track and the fragmented call-and-response between the string section, percussion and brass on the grand finale. This extensibility is not the sole focus of the album though; it is not exhausting to listen to, or superficially zany on any level. In contrast, the caffeinated orchestration and the cheap Casio tones have been tenderly cared to, in order to amplify their presence in subtle, near indescribable ways. Humanity is still intact, with humor on the part of the careening vocals and the passion on part of the majestic winds and the urgent strings. Whimsy also plays a part with regards to this pathos and the escapist qualities of the album. Certain horn lines at the beginning of the album could be likened to Wagner, and others are easily compared to Atlantic City casinos or a fantastical cruise ship cabaret. With an incredible cinematic quality and a knack for theatrics, Shinseiki e no Unga is watermarked with all the details of a stage performance, overloaded on kitsch. And it's truly all for the better, for this case this half hour is splendorous.

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user ratings (16)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 16th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

1.) Hi everyone who's reading this. I miss a bunch of you and you should know who you are and if you don't well... then i probably don't miss you, but that's fine.

2.) No I'm not back. Thought to write this a while back and was reminded after listening for the first time in a while. RYM or SLSK me. (Guess my usernames)

3.) This is really good. Sputnik would enjoy. For art pop hogs and Koenjifucks.

May 16th 2012


looks gud, will get

May 16th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

yup, it is worth the grab. also i noticed a spelling error (or rather usage error, whatever) and for whatever reason am getting an error when trying to edit the review so i hope you can ignore it/them (hopefully not more than one).

May 16th 2012


It's okay, I got your point of a view, though! But, Imo, you should divide that reads into two paragraphs...

May 16th 2012


so what is this exactly

May 16th 2012


Perhaps if you were able to pair the sonic equivalent of a Studio Ghibli film

getting. good review, have a pos

May 17th 2012


Ooh, a Bitchfork review! Oh how I missed these.

August 3rd 2014


just dl'd this :]

September 7th 2016


This is... fucking amazing

September 7th 2016


Cyg if u love me at all stop whatever youre doing and listen to this immediately

This is INCREDIBLE and you'll love it I'm like at least 90% sure you will

September 29th 2016


dude i actually jammed this a few times 2 years ago.
and i absolutely hated it.
and i really can't figure out why i do, whilst also not being able to figure out what's so good about it. ugh so conflicted mang

October 30th 2016


Have you listened to it recently?? I feel like your taste has morphed enough that you could like it now

But basically I like it because I enjoy the caterwauling-ness, the theatrical thematic with arrangements and compositions that are so forceful and over-the-top that they don't feel subtle at all (Though they are - There's lots of little clever things going on here behind the thunderous orchestras), and have SO much energy and life to them it's impossible to ignore (This is one of the few albums I know of that I just can't just put in and do my thing while humming or headbobbing/banging along with it, no matter how familiar I get with it, it DEMANDS my attention). Their ear for balancing out the pop melodies and massive, constantly spiraling and evolving orchestration was spot-on. And that voice!!! Jun is an INCREDIBLE vocalist, she constantly switches moods and tones and doing so breathlessly and without ever overshooting, and the way she juxtaposes with the music is perfect. Also, I appreciate uniqueness a lot and I don't know any record at all that sounds like this except for other Guernica albums, definitely a big plus.

Oh and it's a lot of fucking fun, so that's cool as well

The only problem though is that its style and its aesthetic are its whole game and has little variation. It's not really a problem for me (though it might be if the album wasn't only about 30 mins long) but if you don't dig it you will absolutely get burned out on it by the end and just end up hating it. So if you don't like that kinda thing well you could try taking it slowly to see if it grows on you

February 23rd 2021



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