Let’s talk about Calendula Requiem

With the ever intensifying “age of the idols at war” and the relentless Korean wave dominating today’s Jpop world, it can be hard to discern some of the smaller but no less qualitative acts of the last few years. While there are boundless gems to be found in the second largest music industry in the world, it often takes a bit of effort to actually come upon them. Luckily the internet and social media have greatly facilitated this process of discovery. Like a rebellious teenager suddenly discovering his favorite indie bands through word of mouth, so have I discovered Wakeshima Kanon, kanon×kanon and Calendula Requiem.

The trickster princess and her jester.

A bit of background information may be in order. Wakeshima Kanon, a lifelong cellist, was a finalist at a Sony audition and contracted with the Sony subsidiary DefStar Records for her debut single still doll (a release produced by Mana, of Malice Mizer fame). Calendula Requiem is a collaboration between her and another Kanon, the former bassist of the now defunct visual kei band Antic Café. It’s an interesting pairing indeed and one that seems to produce quality.

This single features three songs. The main song Calendula Requiem has a whymsical quality to it. It sweeps you up and makes you feel like you’re travelling on a great sea of sound during the onset of a storm. There’s a certain melancholy to it, greatly enhanced by Wakeshima Kanon’s entrancing vocals. It’s as if a dark trickster princess invited you on a wonderful journey. I found the song much to my liking and the music video embedded above is well put together. It competently mixes the pyschedelic and bizarre with beauty and originality.

It’s Fan-man!

The second song The Doll House! has many qualities of Calendula Requiem but has a more mischievous feel to it. Again the image of a trickster princess comes to mind, but instead of the contrasting melancholy present in Calendula Requiem, The Doll House! seems to revel in it.

Meet Bonsai-man and…”top of building”-man.

The third song included, Umigame Soup, is unconventional to say the least. A constant repetition of the phrase “Su-suteki na SU-SUUPU” with again a melancholic (albeit far slower and more sedate) instrumental backing it up. It’s a bit too strange for my taste (there’s a soup joke in there somewhere), but the other two songs included in this release more than make up for it.

Don’t forget about Yakiniku-man and Wooden Bucket-man

While Antic Café was already known to me via the music they did for the Darker than Black anime series, this release is my gateway drug to Wakeshima Kanon. I’ve already checked out the rest of her discography and have decided to order her first full album (and I might just go out and order her second one as well) after previewing some of the tracks. The album seems to emphasize her talent as a cellist more than Calendula Requiem does and by all accounts seems to be a slamdunk release.

Of course there’s also the “we’re holding screendoors”-twins.

kanon×kanon did release a second collaboraton called Koi no Doutei but I personally found the shift in style to be a bit jarring, no doubt caused by it being the theme song to the 30 sai no Hoken Taiiku anime series.

Still, I can certainly recommend Calendula Requiem. As usual it’s available on CDJapan. Do check it out.

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