Reaching out

Higurashi Aiha formed her band first, then learned to play an instrument. It’s that kind of adventurousness that drives her work.

She can be noisy and brash, tender and tuneful, and she’s not afraid to try new things.

That said, Higurashi’s second solo album, platonic, is all over the place, and that could be good or bad.

The opening track, “Yumemitai (Cherish My Life)”, represents the midpoint of the album’s aesthetic. This time around, she augments her loose, garage rock guitars with robotic synthesizers.

Perhaps capitalizing on New Wave vogue, “living source” sounds like it was produced by Thomas Dolby or Howard Jones time warped from 1985. It’s what Tommy february6 should have sounded like.

“til the time comes” finds Higurashi singing a sexy melody against a growling synth bass and some funky guitar samples. “Secrets”, meanwhile, sets an R&B bass line against a dischordant guitar hook to produce one of the album’s more angular tunes.

As the album progresses, the experimentation heads into weirder territory. A stuttering rhythm backs the ambient “mermaid”, while the 7-minute “Silly Girl” alternately seethes like Nine Inch Nails and hammers like Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her.

But for every experiment Higurashi conducts, she offers an introspective counterweight. The odd rhythm of the folk guitars on “Naked Sun” only heightens its beauty. “Joy” goes to the opposite extreme of “Silly Girl”, offering only the singer and her guitar, while “evergreen” is so lo-tech, the percussion is provided by bongos.

The final two tracks of platonic bring Higurashi to her more recent past, sounding like perfect Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her outtakes.

After all that exploration, it’s hard what to make of platonic. Higurashi is brave to take the albums to all sorts of extremes, and by themselves, the individual tracks offer a lot of fascinating moments.

Put together, though, Platonic is scattershot. It’s a whole bunch of little ideas for a lot of different works, but not enough of a single idea for one album.

And that’s what also gives it charm.

Hearing Higurashi stretch out into experimental territory is perhaps just as fun as hearing her bash out a solid album of rock ‘n’ roll.