Initially started as a loving homage and tribute band to legendary Japanese guitarist Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi, the Montreal-based collective TEKE: TEKE – Yuki Isami (flute, shinobue and keys), Hidetaka Yoneyama (guitar), Sergio Nakauchi Pelletier (guitar), Mishka Stein (bass), Etienne Lebel (trombone), Ian Lettree (drums, percussion) and Maya Kuroki (vocals, keys and percussion) — features a collection of accomplished Montreal-based musicians, who have played with the likes of Pawa Up First, Patrick Wilson, Boogat, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra and others. The Montreal-based act quickly came into their own when they started to blend Japanese Eleki surf rock with elements of modern Western music including shoegaze, post-punk, psych rock, ska, Latin music and Balkan music. Adding to a bold, genre-defying sound, the band’s arrangement meshes rock instrumentation with traditional Japanese instrumentation.
With the release of their debut EP 2018’s Jikaku, the members of the Montreal-based septet came into their own highly unique and difficult to pigeonhole sound that features elements of Japanese Eleki surf rock, shoegaze, post-punk, psych rock, ska, Latin music and Balkan music. Last year was a momentous year for TEKE: TEKE. They signed to Kill Rock Stars Records, who released the rising Canadian act’s full-length debut Shirushi earlier this year.
In the lead up to the album’s release, I wrote about five of its singles:
- “Kala Kala:” Deriving its title from a phrase that roughly translates to English as clattering, “Kala Kala” is centered around a mind-melting arrangement and song structure, Kuroki’s howling and crooning. And to my ears, the track accurately captures the band’s frenetic live energy.
- “Chidori,” a cinematic yet mosh pit friendly freak out that’s one part psych rock, one part Dick Dale-like surf rock, one part Ennio Morricone soundtrack delivered with a frenetic aplomb.
- “Meikyu:” Deriving its title from the Japanese word for labyrinth, the track is a no bullshit, no filler all killer ripper with menacing guitar work, dramatic bursts of trombone, fluttering flute, thumping tribal drumming and some wild soloing within an expansive, mind-melting song structure.
- Yoru Ni,” a fever dream featuring dreamy blasts of flute and trombone, menacing and slashing guitars and intricate Japanese shamisen. Deriving its name from the Japanese phrase for “at night,” the song despite it’s mischievous tone, is a somewhat romantic and spiritual tale about its central character letting go of a long-held delusional quest.
- “Barbara,” a mischievous and cinematic track with a stomping, punk rock energy that sounds like the perfect soundtrack for a misfit circus — or the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, as each instrumental part seemingly introducing a new and strange character. Much like the previously released singles, “Barbara” captures the frenetic energy of their live sets. The lyrics as the band explained are a twisted take on zashiki-warashi, spirit beings, who like to perform pranks and bring good fortune to those who see them.
The Montreal-based JOVM mainstays just announced a 2022 North American tour that includes a handful of club dates and some Winter festival appearances. Sadly, there aren’t any New York dates on this run. But if you happen to be in or near any of these cities, go and catch them. As always, tour dates are below. But in the meantime, the band released a trippy visual for album single “Kala Kala.”
Directed by the band’s Maya Kuroki and Serge Nakauchi Pelletier, the video is a deft and playful mix of illustrations and old-timey collages by the band’s Maya Kuroki, close-up footage of the band by Lily Pelletier, live footage of the band and more, edited by Serge Nakauchi Pelletier. It’s a frenzied and arresting visual delight, chock full of Easter eggs and sight gags.