Review Summary: Kicking out the jams at the peak of summertime.
Theatre Brook is a quaint little four-piece band from the land of Japan. The group is the career work of the lead singer and guitarist Taiji Sato, a mixed Japanese and hispanic lifelong musician who has headed the band since they formed in the mid 80's. In the beginning, Theatre Brook was a funk rock group that tended heavily towards improvisation. But since then, the group has also messed around with a dizzying number of other genres from straight up rock to electronic, prog rock, orchestral, psychadelia, and even pop as of late. They have a cult following in Japan that tends away from the mainstream. Although they have had a few bouts of fame. For example, they played a song for the show Durarara and even opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on tour in 1990.
The band itself puts a lot of work into all its offerings. Most of their albums clock in above the 60-minute mark and this one is no exception. This specific album is one of the highlights in their career - it landed at a time when the urge to make a name for themselves was still burning strong and they were also just starting to push the boundaries of their music into new genre territories. Notable electronic interludes mixed with full orchestras, trippy synths, and middle eastern sounds riddle the album along with a few other surprises. One of the songs even has a bubble wrap breakdown/interlude (I won't say which one).
A jovial and buoyant feeling surrounds this album right from the opener, Sun Drop Child. The singer has a unique and recognizable voice for its distinct and anthem-like quality that just fills up the room. Strings soon join the chorus and bring it to greater theatrical heights. After the first song is over, a mellow electronic interlude leads you into the next song, a slightly heavier song that introduces prominent synths and heavier guitars.
After that number, we get to one of my personal favorites, Just Way. It opens up with a otherworldly eastern synth, and then a minute later the song kicks in with a dank bass riff that repeats for the rest of the song's duration over some pretty psychadelic vocals. The rest of the album plays around with a bunch of different styles and end up being a really fun journey. Just imagine yourself out in the summertime. At a concert or such by the ocean, surrounded by people, energy, and good vibes. Those are all the feelings I get from this, just celebrating the greatness of life. Some ballads and ambient pieces are incidentally mixed in, but the band never loses their adventurous funk jam roots in the process.
The production of the album is also pretty pristine. One would expect the mix to be busy with five distinct instruments, but the final result is clean sounding without losing any of the punch of any of the individual leads. The bass and drums can solo and play back and forth with the other leads without either of them getting lost. The seamless string and electronic inserts are also top notch. There's really nothing to complain about as far as the mixing is concerned. Even the quirky spoken voice interludes add to the fun.
The band makes quite the spectacle live as well. The band mates wear various costumes and plan lengthy antics at their shows, and more than half of the concert consists of improv jam sessions. A unique experience I would highly suggest.