By Yusuke Tsuruta / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterRock band Okamoto's has released a new album with the provocative title "No More Music."
Sho Okamoto, vocalist and leader of the four-man band, came up with the seemingly contradictory title while composing lyrics for the Ariola label album.
"I thought, 'I’m writing music again, but who on earth needs music so much?’" he said during a recent interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun.
This is the rock band’s seventh album since its major label debut in 2010. The members all use Okamoto in their names because of their shared appreciation for 20th-century artist Taro Okamoto.
Since the band’s debut, music fans have turned to a wider array of media for listening to songs, from CDs to online streaming and YouTube.
The cover of "No More Music"
"Now you can enjoy all the hottest new works the day they’re released by subscribing to an all-you-can-listen-to service for ¥980 per month," drummer Reiji Okamoto said. "There are too many works I want to listen to and I can’t catch them all. I think there should be a temporary hold on all new releases."
The provocative new album title is meant to encourage listeners to pause and consider the distance between music and themselves.
Contrary to the title’s austere meaning, the album’s 10 tracks are filled with variety, combining rock ’n’ roll with funky undertones.
For the latest album, Okamoto’s adopted a different approach compared to the production of its previous album, "Opera," for which the members "developed the concept first," bassist Hama Okamoto said.
"We didn’t do that this time. Instead, we tried to balance physical sensations and content that’s more thought-provoking," he added.
The first track, "90’s Tokyo Boys," begins with the rhythmic sounds of a guitar while a bass reverberates with rubbery resilience.
"We’ve combined a rock element with a funky element for a long time," Sho said. "Until recently, however, fast-paced music with a positive vibe was in vogue. Over the past two or so years, there’s been a backlash of sorts, and cool, slower-paced music has come into demand. I think the current movement enables us to fight purely with the weapons at our disposal."
A recent trend in music has been incorporating elements of past music into new songs. This is illustrated by the growing popularity of Suchmos, a six-member band that has drawn inspiration from many genres of music.
"Okamoto’s [musical] roots haven’t become mainstream yet," said Reiji, who nurtured his diverse and complex musical preferences since junior high school, when he would carry 100 CDs around every day.
"We’re pretty difficult," Reiji said with a wry chuckle.
Guitarist Koki Okamoto said the members look to songs that have won enduring favor from listeners because they "want to create music with an expiration date far out in the future."
"I’d say, 'Actually, our music’s a lot deeper than you might think.’ I think [our style] will become more meaningful later on."
The new album offers listeners the opportunity to understand how "difficult" they really are. It has been released in various formats, including CD, vinyl record and streaming.
"The order of the tracks works best when you listen to the album on a record," Reiji said. "I hope listeners appreciate it in their own way, but vinyl is our recommendation."Speech