Monday, July 19, 2010

Haco - Happiness Proof (1999)

To take a quote from Sonore's wonderful book on Japanese independent music (subtly titled, Japanese Independent Music), Haco was noted as "embodying a light attitude which consciously embraces and critiques both kitsch and experimentalism; Haco has for the past decade stretched and broken the notion of the pop song". With her 1999 release, Happiness Proof, (also featuring Astushi Tsynama and I.S.O. drummer Ichiracku Yoshimitsu, and more) she exemplifies that statement, bringing her soft, cheery voice into slow charming tunes, and then carefully displacing it, adding lush distortion, cacophonous structures and atypical instruments such as a pocket theremin and electric mandolins.
It's quite the varied album, if you weren't already keyed to that. Her childlike innocence continually reacts with her harsh sounds and samples, creating its own casual struggle as we're left try to catch up. It's pop, and unpop. It's avant-garde, yet inviting. Occasionally she'll bring you into an environment of her creation, developing a song enough to initiate a response, but as soon as it's over, you're picking up your thoughts with a flurry of samples and broken melodies.
Not that I want to scare a listener. This isn't harsh (well, comparatively so). At it's core, this is pop music. A knack for rhythms, her enticing vocals, bright atmospheres, all this comes together for the majority of the album to float along as a primal achievement. There are these keys of inorganic, inhuman experimentation, but the counter-play becomes as much of an enjoyment as the expression of it all. This is avant-garde for the curious and scared. Outstandingly complex and cautiously safe; it's a blend that never seems to sound right, but Haco does it without fail.


  1. Also, she is the cutest avant-garde musician, without a doubt.

  2. Also, the folder.jpg in the download is a lower res than the one here. If you care, download this one and replace it.