A dive in the deep end

First, a warning: If you’re expecting The World Is Mine to grab, hold, shake and rattle you the way previous Quruli albums have done, prepare to work very hard for your aural gratification.

The World Is Mine is Quruli’s dark album. Sure, Kishida Shigeru and gang have always had one foot planted firmly in moody, introspective balladry, the other in tuneful, hard rocking work-outs.

But on the band’s fourth full-length album, Quruli has taken a dive into more ambient territory.

The World Is Mine starts off slowly — very, very slowly.

“Guilty” has a pretty loud outburst of energy midway through the song, but “Shizuka no Umi”, which means “calm ocean” in Japanese, lives up to its title. The track never builds to a climax, instead retreating inward into a sea of studio effects.

Quruli albums tend to hit the proverbial racetrack, running, so it’s shocking and unsettling to witness The World Is Mine crashing before it even gets anywhere.

Or so first impressions would leave a listener to believe.

Even though the band obliges fans with its trademark rockers — “Go Back to China”, “Thank You My Girl” — this album is mostly about sonic exploration.

“Mind the Gap” combines big beats with bagpipes in a quirky but appealing instrumental. “Suichuu Motor” obliterates the lead vocal, masking it in robotic effects.

“Buttersand/Pianorgan” takes the backbeat of the beautiful “World’s End Supernova” and turns it into an exercise of creating aural collages. “Pearl River” concludes the album with two minutes of water lapping against a pier.

When the band isn’t fiddling around with effects processors, they’re sharpening their skills in writing poignant slow songs. “Otoko no Ko to Onna no Ko” (“Boy and Girl”) has a majestic feel, while “Suna no Hoshi” (“Sand Star”) bounces along on a waltz meter. “Amadeus” is so indescript, it doesn’t register.

Perhaps the one track that epitomizes the creative direction of this album is “World’s End Supernova”, Quruli’s catchiest song to date. Kishida sings a plaintive melody over a driving four-on-the-floor beat, and yet the song’s Spartan arrangement darkens it.

It may feel like a dance song but one you’d dance to by yourself.

The World Is Mine definitely takes at least a week’s worth of listening before it reveals its beauty, and that might try the patience of long-term fans who love playing “Wandervogel” and “Bara no Hana” on repeat.

Quruli has taken a daring artistic step, and it’s not easy making that leap with them. But if you follow the band, they won’t steer you wrong.