DJ Mariko Goto
ゲンズブールに愛されて


3.5
great

Review

by Johnny[Well] CONTRIBUTOR (146 Reviews)
January 1st, 2020 | 21 replies


Release Date: 12/11/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Loved by red noise.

Mariko Goto is a born performer.

Probably the second most entertaining thing I have seen in the past year was a YouTube live video of Mariko Goto playing a solo set to a room of maybe 30 people in Shanghai, March 2019. It's a distorted electro pop scream-a-thon of the most epic and obnoxious proportions: Goto performs with the energy of a demented honeybadger, violating the stage space to the full extent of her capabilities. It’s fascinating, exhilarating and utterly watchable (honestly, I went in expecting to change video after five minutes or so, only to find myself near-spellbound for the entirety of the performance). Goto’s posture shifts between unrelenting spinal impossibilities and her voice is subjected to such a punishing set of full-throated insanities that it's a miracle she has any if it left by the end. Needless to say, the audience is left in tatters - most of them stand around in a beleaguered mess and the only one who comes close to keeping up with her is her peppy tour buddy Haru Nemuri (who, accordingly, loses her *** at the back of the venue). I can't the remember the last time I saw the look and sound of Raising Hell defined this convincingly.

Off the back of these antics, the final form of her returning highness DJ Mariko Goto’s debut (as such) wasn’t quite the overload I was bracing for. Those who expected Gainsbourg ni Aisarete to be a scuzzy electropop meltdown or a full return to Goto’s Midori-era fire and brimstone will likely be disappointed; Gainsbourg is far from the opposite of either of these but it approaches electro pop far more faithfully than anyone had a right to expect, especially considering the raucousness of its anticipatory demo EP way back in 2018. Make no mistake, there’s plenty of chaos to be found here: the debased synth firestorm that kickstarts “Tatami so good!!!!!”, “HEAVEN”’s insistent meow samples and “Breeeeeak out!!!!!”’s flash-in-a-pan slamdown are as turbulent as any of Aratame Ma***e Hajime Ma***e Midori Desu stormiest fare, here for a good time and not a long time.

However, these moments are underpinned by a cleaner, more palatable approach to songwriting and production. Tail-end highlights “Neverending Story” and “LSD” (that’s Love Suki Daisuki, kids) reinvent the sound of Goto’s broadly unremarkable 2014 album Kowareta Hako ni Rinakkusu as sickly-sweet dance pop with a fresh sound palette. They’re robustly crafted and engagingly produced, landing as some of the more satisfying moments from Goto’s saccharine side. The album’s best tracks, naturally, are the ones that take the most liberties in pivoting between the saccharine and the stormy: “replay ATAMI” and “Yojouhan Tansu Dance” are innovative bangers as slick as they are infectious, full of great hooks and bold songwriting that shift cohesively between calm and storm with flair and spirit.

“Yojouhan Tansu Dance” in particular is a sign that this album’s polish wasn’t misplaced; while I initially missed the violence of the demo and live versions of that song and “Breeeeeak out!!!!!”, both sound less contrived and a good deal less amateurish in their final form here. I went into Gainsbourg expecting the compelling sound the potentially limitless ***s not given by Mariko Goto being thrown against a wall as per that live performance; the album has more self-respect and craft than this, and it holds up as ‘legitimate’ pop as well as an appropriate vehicle for its creator’s unmistakable brand of chaos. Not to say it’s without its problems: I think the production could use a pinch more noise to accentuate certain moments, the mix is a little treble-happy, the snare tone does not spark as much joy as it might, the cold opening of the first couple of tracks is somewhat fun but not on nearly the same level as the album’s mid-way bangers, and I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of “HEAVEN” (it’s a perfectly fine track in its way, but it doesn’t flesh out the calm/storm dynamic already outlined with reference to other songs quite as convincingly). The elephant in the room for many (especially first-timers) will be Goto’s voice; it’s fairly established at this point that she’s a force of personality not a melody maker as far as mic chops are concerned, so you can take it or leave it or as such.

More the most part, however, the sequencing, songwriting and overall energy are up to scratch here and Gainsbourg ni Aisarete ends up as an engaging and quite important album for Mariko Goto. Perhaps the key takeaway is that for the first time in almost ten years, her material is no longer a B-tier fix for the more interesting contemporary output of other similar artists. Not that Gainsbourg lacks its share of clear contemporary analogues; it has much in common with various eclectically-minded figures who have emerged since the years of Goto’s earlier solo work, such as Tentenko, Samezame, or Haru Nemuri. This group, however, is a good fit for her; where she once felt outgunned by artists like Seiko Oomori, Kuroki Nagisa, and (maybe) Etsuko Yakushimaru, here she feels like an important shareholder sitting comfortably alongside other innovators and eclecticists. Gainsbourg’s fibre also amplifies the Judy And Mary-isms that often pervaded her past solo work, yet these are voiced far more distinctively here. Where Goto once seemed content to pay tribute to JAM frontwoman Yuki’s giddy pop charm, she now seems to have caught up with the freakhouse art pop spirit that shaped that group’s later day output. A success on multiple fronts, all things considered: Mariko Goto has got her mojo back and her new album (in its way) is as exciting and personable a development as any of her heyday classics.



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user ratings (8)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 1st 2020


22662 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Happy 2020 !

Sensational live video from the first para: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GQpFHk2Nm8

Spotify: open.spotify.com/album/7ofW4AwSrQHeiLDy3lawAn?si=pNVfs9tQTsup0wRehdlqMA

Digging: Aoki Takamasa - Indigo Rose

FadedSun
January 1st 2020


2195 Comments


Recommended by reviewer: Sennou :eyes: Are the parallels true?

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 1st 2020


22662 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The Sennou parallel is probs the loosest one there - this reminds me a bit of Imitation Girl and some of the weird tracks in the backend, it's more synthed up and dancey for the most part though

Those Tentenko and Samezame picks are much closer to what Mariko was vibing on this one, but even closer would be the first track on WARP (Judy and Mary). I hear a LOT of that here

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 5th 2020


52820 Comments


Get off the fuckin weeb shit nerd

Digging: Oren Bloedow and Jennifer Charles - Convivencia

sixdegrees
January 5th 2020


8797 Comments


are you okay

Digging: Goropsy - GOD GAVE ME ONE LIFE AND HE MADE ME UGLY

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 5th 2020


52820 Comments


Define okay

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 5th 2020


22662 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Okay is when you make coffee and all your pets are alive

Sinternet
January 5th 2020


21838 Comments


weebs out FeelsWeirdMan :point_right: :door:

Digging: -

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 5th 2020


52820 Comments


Well then yes by that standard I am absolutely ok

FadedSun
January 6th 2020


2195 Comments


Get on the weeb shit pots. don't act like you're above it

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 6th 2020


52820 Comments


I have been playing new fire emblem, it's been pretty weeby

Asdfp277
January 6th 2020


22139 Comments


i bet this rules

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2020


22662 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a very asdfp album tell me I'm wrong

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 6th 2020


52820 Comments


Sounds right

Pangea
January 6th 2020


3749 Comments


looks cool, will give it a shot

dimsim3478
January 8th 2020


8599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

best thing she's done in 10 years. remarkably consistent album. might bump.

Digging: Sunny Day Service - ???!

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 8th 2020


22662 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'd bump that to 11 years - prefer this to Shinsekai

dimsim3478
January 8th 2020


8599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

btw the recs discussion earlier got me thinking about sorting and contextualising this record in general. Mariko is obviously drawing from hardcore EDM with her DJ material, as well as mainstream songwriting-oriented pop. thing is nobody else in Japan is really blending the two together like this. closest to what she's doing was probably Nature Danger Gang, who played at the first DJ Mariko Goto show (their similarities are a lot more obvious if you compare their live footage). like most other places, the pop scenes and the underground hardcore scenes (like the LEF CREW circle, or J-core like DJ Sharpnel and Lolistyle Gabbers) dont really intersect, except maybe at Scum Park or Ringo Fes. nevertheless some of this stuff is surprisingly reminiscent of J-core; it's likely by coincidence but still pretty hilarious.



anyway lumping Mariko in with like Seiko or Tentenko or JAM is really only telling half the story. that kinda thing was already in her DNA before (Midori was famously billed as Osaka's answer to JAM) but now it's been spliced with a buncha skittery hardcore techno subgenres, which is why i suspect she's going by the name DJ Mariko Goto; to draw attention to that aspect of her new sound.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 9th 2020


22662 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Interesting points, esp. on the crossover between mainstream and underground. Will have to check Nature Danger Gang

On the latter point though, I'd agree that Seiko isn't a useful comparison here beyond her general sampling of different pop stylings (mentioned her in reference to Mariko's earlier solo stuff), but I think Tentenko is relevant precisely because of how she goes down the techno rabbithole (though she keeps these influences more distinct from her pop material). As for JAM, I never bought into the comparison with Midori and suppose they're also more pertinent to the other Mariko solo stuff, but the creative approach here does remind me of the weirder stuff in their later day material; I get a similar hybrid ethic even if the influences are different. Rainbow Devil's Land comes to mind in particular and I might have mentioned it in the review, but I didn't want to drag the comparison out further

dimsim3478
January 9th 2020


8599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not to belabour the point but what i was tryna say there was not as simple as "those arent fitting comparisons". what i was getting at was that contextualising mariko in terms of those artists draws attention away from a really significant part of her new sound (the production), completely overlooks the prominent role of hardcore techno therein, and haphazardly lumps her together with the common songwriting-oriented crop of mainstream japanese pop artists to which seiko and JAM so clearly belong. theres obviously hordes of artists doing electropop in japan too (ranging from tentenko to wednesday campanella to daoko), but i'd argue that this album is even more production-oriented than the vast majority of them because most of those artists create music that primarily centres upon the singer and their vocal melodies (i.e. songwriting). in contrast, this album is surprisingly production-centric, in a sense not dissimilar to traditional EDM (the kind made by DJs/producers for clubs, particularly hardcore techno), as well as some technopop acts like denki groove. that is, a lot of these songs feel almost like floor tracks rather than pop tracks. to elaborate on what i said earlier, maybe she's going by the name "DJ mariko goto" now because she wants this music to be looked at as if she's a DJ, rather than a singer-songwriter as she was previously known.



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