Featuring a collection of accomplished, Montreal-based musicians, who have played with and alongside the likes of Pawa Up First, Patrick Wilson, Boogat, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra and others, the rising Montreal-based Japanese psych punk septet 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) — was initially founded as a loving homage (and tribute) to legendary Japanese guitarist Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi.
With the release of their debut EP 2018’s Jikaku, the rising Montreal-based septet came into their own highly unique and difficult to pigeonhole sound, a sound that features elements of Japanese Eleki surf rock, shoegaze, post-punk, psych rock, ska, Latin music and Balkan music. 2020 was a big year for the Canadian psych act. They signed to Kill Rock Stars Records, who will be releasing the band’s highly-awaited full-length debut Shirushi. The band also released two singles off the album, which is slated for a May 7, 2021 release:
- “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,” Shirushi‘s third and latest single, derives its title from the Japanese word for labyrinth and the song is a, no bullshit, no filler, all killer headbang centered around an expansive, mind-melting song structure that features some muscular and menacing guitar work, dramatic bursts of trombone, fluttering flute, trumping tribal drumming, and some of the wildest soloing I’ve heard in the better part of a year. Maya Kuroki’s crooning and feral howling add to the song’s balls-to-the-wall, maximalist frenzy — and it kicks major ass.
Fittingly, the Montreal-based act released a DIY yet cinematically shot video that features live footage of the band performing individually — perhaps as a result of pandemic restrictions — and gorgeous animations from the band’s Serge Nakauchi-Pelletier and Maya Kuroki. “When plans with a hired animator fell through, Maya and I decided to take things into our own hands,” Nakauchi-Pelletier says. Kuroki adds, “I’ll make some drawings or paintings and then use whatever tools we have, learn new software on the spot and ways of working as we go.’’
“Musically, we wanted a fast-paced repetitive pattern that would have a hypnotic and unnerving effect,” the band explains. Kuroki continues, “the song tells the story of a young character trying to escape the grasp of a twisted spirit that took the form of a labyrinthe-like mansion in a psychedelic atmosphere, slightly inspired by visuals from Japanese art-horror flick Hausu.”