So. New Wave is back, and it’s called electroclash. Analog is, like, cool and so is playing on keyboards with fewer kilobytes of RAM than a hair dryer.
Never mind that archaic is as archaic does.
Nirgilis is not New Wave, and as such, is not even electroclash. And somehow, its combination of quirky chords, heavy programming and shoegazer guitar keys into the punk-meets-disco aesthetic New Wave attempted to forge.
In other words, Nirgilis sounds fun.
The brainchild of keyboardist Moyo Satake, the band formed in 1993 but didn’t release a single recording till seven years later.
When it did, it unleashed a distinctive sound both familiar and new. Listening to the opening track “Thunder” feels like piecing together a puzzle.
A bit of My Bloody Valentine in the guitars? A bit of house and electronica in the drums? A bit of Luminous Orange and Claude Debussy in the harmonies? Maybe all or maybe none.
Whatever the case, Nirgilis can accomodate quite a number of plug-ins.
Hip-hop? The reprise of “Thunder II” with rapper Moyunijumo of Illrime shows Nirgilis is good as any breakbeat record. Big guitars? “Young Halo” finds the band channeling its inner Cure and Sonic Youth. Ethereal slow songs? Gotcha covered on “Juju” and “Kiss”.
Nirgilis sounds best when its combining whimsical melodies with canned beats. It’s all right to make funny contortions while listening to “Koke Tissue” or “Oh, Do Re Mi”.
Singer Iwata Acchu possesses a compelling, airy voice, and while Moyo’s programming is the biggest presence in the band’s sound, the contributions by bassist Kurihara Noboru, drummer Inadera Yuki and guitarist Ito Ko-ki are no less important.
Inadera’s drumming on “Akari” and “Young Halo” is especially crucial, while “Kiss” finds Moyo taking a back seat to his bandmates.
Tennis is a remarkable, confident debut, familiar without employing anachronisms, new without feeling too alien.