photos by James Bailey
Back in November, Asobi Seksu released ReWolf, an album of acoustic versions of their music recorded in one long day at the now-closed Olympic Studios in London. They brought what lead singer Yuki Chikudate laughingly called their “classy” acoustic act to the Triple Door on Wednesday the 20th. Opening for them was local artist Anomie Belle.
This was my third time in the past year seeing Anomie Belle, a singer and musician whose instruments include violin, guitar, keyboards, and samplers. For this live performance, she included a cellist and a drummer throughout, with an additional violinist and a violist guesting on a few songs. Anomie Belle’s music is largely a mid-tempo blend of r&b and trip-hop, with some classical chamber music influence. There’s no question of her talents as a singer and musician: she has a fine voice, she plays well on her various instruments, and she’s steady on the beat defined by her samples. However, as with the previous times I’ve seen her, I was left feeling that her songs never seem to go anywhere: they lack development, or even much in the way of strong hooks. I also wanted her to make more inventive use, or maybe just more extensive use, of her violin. That said, I did like her songs “Greenhouse” and “Amy’s Song”, and some of my dissatisfaction with the rest comes down simply to differences in musical taste.
The quartet of Asobi Seksu — including Chikudate on vocals, piano, toy piano, and glockenspiel, James Hanna and Billy Pavone on acoustic guitars, and Larry Gorman on drums and backing vocals — professed amazement at the grand surroundings of the Triple Door, commenting how different it was from their usual rock shows. But they fit right in, delivering a set of beautiful songs from all of their past albums, most but not all featured on ReWolf. The spare, clean sound of these acoustic versions contrasted strongly with Asobi Seksu’s usual dense and fuzzy shoegaze style, and demonstrated that beneath the shimmer and noise lies some strong songwriting. They couldn’t quite leave their roots behind, as a few songs such as “Goodbye” featured rock-style drumming. On the other hand, “Thursday” sounded much like the French pop of François Hardy that Chikudate explained had been its inspiration, rather than like the rock version they originally recorded. The acoustic style of the music — and the theater acoustics — showcased Chikudate’s gorgeous clear voice, and revealed surprisingly good backing harmonies from Gorman, the drummer. Although the music sounded great and the band seemed happy with the performance, they reassured the audience that they’d be rocking out next time they’re back in Seattle. As for me, I enjoyed this experiment with a different style, and look forward to hearing how Asobi Seksu adapt it into their future music.