The aura surrounding the enigmatic Idol unit · · · · · · · · · (or simply Dots) is mainly composed by two elements: refined shoegaze compositions – featuring details that clearly remind the touch of some of the best songwriters in the scene – and a concept that makes the anonymity of the girls its main core, creating a somewhat fascinating phenomenon that just begs to be analyzed. Still, if on the conceptual side everything is still pretty much surrounded by a thick fog, the quality of the compositions offered by Dots is clear and polished, with a solid formula that follows classic shoegaze patterns and merges them with delicate Electronic elements that help emphasize the ethereal aura surrounding the project.
After a three-tracks EP released in January, the five (or six? or nine?) mysterious girls are back with their first physical release, a single composed by a unique 72 minutes track simply titled “Tokyo“. If their previous work merely gathered any attention outside the underground Idol niche, the websites boasting the “72 minutes long single” headline (including Arama) surely helped to turn a few more heads beyond the cramped underground stages of Ebisu and Koenji, showing the will of creating a certain appeal around this release.
“Tokyo” is basically a series of songs packed inside a single track, divided by interludes that create a continuous flow between music and atmospheric segments: it’s an interesting formula that works wonders in terms of atmosphere and flow, and successfully emphasizes the bright yet melancholic mood permeating these compositions. As a result, the first three songs merge together almost naturally, showcasing different vibes despite steadily holding onto the same formula made of sweet melancholic guitar riffs and Electronic bits and synths.
Kicking off with a brief atmospheric intro, the first track is a straight-to-the-point shoegaze number that brings upbeat yet nostalgic vibes to the table, conveyed through delicate layers of vocals and shiny riffs that stand out in well-balanced instrumental sections, boosting the comfortably melancholic mood of the track. As the first song ends, the sound of guitars slowly fades to leave space to the first ambient interlude: the noise of trains, cars, and construction sites now fill the ears, as if the listener was lining up on the platform of a train station in the middle of Tokyo’s Chuo line. The scenario then delicately changes and leaves spaces to relaxing rumors of trees moved by the wind and crickets, something you would hear in a late summer night walk inside Kichijoji’s Inokashira Park. As a thunder strikes in the distance, the next track kicks in with delicate electronic synths and joyful vocal lines; it’s only a brief moment of peace though, as airy synths gradually venture into darker fields, with harsher guitar riffs emerging and fusing with dramatic high-pitched melodies: the track plays a lot with this contrast throughout its structure, and while it works from an atmospheric standpoint, these sections occasionally feel a bit too invasive and prolonged. As the track reaches its end, another atmospheric interlude kicks in, leaving aside ambient noises in favor of layers of fresh synths and distant guitar riffs, that lead to a third track that fans will probably recognize as one of the best pieces from the unit’s previous EP: a light-hearted Shoegaze number, “Nee” features delicate and playful vocal harmonies, fitting the unit’s trademark sound highlighted by the reverb of distant guitar riffs and mellow melodies, in one of the tracks that represents the mysterious Idol unit the most.
The mix of songs and ambient interludes works greatly until this point, making “Tokyo” a very pleasing and visual track that flows naturally, exploring different patterns while staying true to its core sound: it’s a well-crafted experience, a continuous and satisfying flow of music and sounds that complement each other.
But something abruptly changes everything: as the last note of “Nee” fades away, the next song kicks in immediately. There’s no interlude, no ambient or atmospheric sound. It’s the 22nd minute of the single, and as the taste of the sweet and melancholic vibe of the previous track still echoes in the distance, a violent noise cruelly stabs the ears: it’s the fourth track, fifty minutes of constant noise repeated over and over again, with frequencies slowly progressing and changing until the end of the track.
The time has come, but it was good until it lasted. Were you really expecting a grand Idol/Prog/Shoegaze suite? Or a 72-minutes long collection of songs?
It’s Idol music. There’s always a gimmick behind, as someone would say. Thinking about it, this release is kind of a portrait of many Idol Pop albums out there: two or three great tracks, with the rest just being a big filler.
How fun of you, · · · · · · · · · .
To learn more about Dots and their concept, be sure to check out this in-depth article.