Last year was a good one stateside for Japanese experimental folk-pop maestro Shugo Tokumaru. Exit, his latest full-length and one of my favorite albums of 2007, was officially issued in the U.S. on Almost Gold Recordings and he even put together a short tour here with support from members of Beirut (which included a performance at the CMJ Festival as well as a quick East Coast run with The Magnetic Fields). It was enough to make me forget that we could probably expect to hear some new music from him pretty soon… and lo and behold, today Shugo released a single with three brand new tracks, three alternate takes of previously recorded songs, and a couple remixes.
The A-side, “Rum Hee”, is rich, triumphant, and anthemic, awash in an abundance of bright hues and sunny textures. Opening with driving guitar strums, sleigh bell shakes, and a background of light bird chirps, the song plays out like the soundtrack for a frolic through a magical forest, its layers of smile-inducing sounds swelling and subsiding, cascading over the listener in exhilarating waves. “Rum Hee” is also given the remix treatment by noise-pop mainstays Deerhoof and Osakan electro-weirdo Oorutaichi. Both are really good, but I figured I’d post the one that I find the most interesting… and to my surprise, it isn’t Deerhoof’s subtle, percussive reworking. Oorutaichi manages to outdo them by reimagining “Rum Hee” as a piece of glitch-laden, beat-driven electronica, all the while maintaining the wide-eyed wonder of the original.
Download: Shugo Tokumaru – Rum Hee (removed by request)
Download: Shugo Tokumaru – Rum Hee (Oorutaichi Remix) (removed by request)
Buy: Rum Hee is only available in Japan at the moment, but you can pick up the CD and a bonus DVD with footage from Shugo’s U.S. tour at CD Japan for $18.94 (plus shipping). Or, if you can’t shell that out, follow this iTunes link and click “Change Store” to be able to download Rum Hee for about $12. To change back to the U.S. Store, scroll down to the bottom of the iTunes Store homepage, click the “My Store” pull down menu and then click “United States”.
Watch: MP3s are a no-go, but check out the official video for “Rum Hee” which features a mass of black-and-white U.S. tour, travel, studio, and cat footage.