Eclectic and unpredictable, Japan the debut album from Dogtanion is a release which permanently intrigues and even with a landscape which is an undulating makes for one striking and ultimately enjoyable journey. It is a release which teases and plays with emotions and sensibilities whilst giving a mischievous glint to its air throughout. It is sharp and at times wicked especially lyrically but has a constant grace and mesmerism to leave one more than satisfied across its relatively brief presence.
Dogtanion is the musical alter-ego of Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau, a London-based musician and film-maker. Following up the well received single Islam; the album builds upon that first introduction with a gentle stroll full of irresistible twists and feisty asides to offer the unexpected and well crafted invention. A vibrant merge of electronica, acoustic and folk with essences of garage and lo-fi minimalism, the album keeps one captivated from start to finish. Arguably the first half of the album does leave the latter part in the shade somewhat but you can be quite sure it will be the reverse for just as many people and it is doubtful there will be any unable to find plenty of rewards in the release as a whole.
The album opens with Beast And The Boots a song which squeezes and slides along the imagination as firmly and skilfully as the artist manipulates his guitar, each note speaking passion with their sound and squealing caresses. The vocals are just as emotive as the music and all combined makes for a pleasing low key beginning to the release. By its end the piece has the ear and thoughts open for what is to come with brewing anticipation and eagerness.
The aforementioned single Islam comes next and immediately shows why it was so well received upon its release. Wonderfully acerbic in word and full of tantalising sounds and ideas within the warmth of sound, the song is a real treat. Imagine Arctic Monkeys writing words for a musical fusion of Seth Lakeman, Conformist and RKC and you get an idea of its charm and many aspects. Along with the following Fringepot the songs ignite the atmosphere with little blisters of musical light brought with mini intensive bursts of energy. The latter of the two is a meatier feast for the ear but both leave one with an immense smile inside and out for their unique and infectious hearts.
Best song on the album comes in the heated summer of Heavy Talk. A calypso lit fiesta of summer warmth and light headed enterprise the song is sheer excellence which refuses to let the ear and senses take a breath until its departure. Go back in time and think of something like Tom Hark from The Piranhas and you get a real flavour of not only the sound of the song but its energy and contagiousness. It is the biggest highlight of Japan and another fine example of the diversity within its shining walls.
It is from this point the album takes a turn and explores the melodic and impassioned beauty within the songwriting and shimmering sounds of Dogtanion. Bastard Song has a frame of boisterous beats to stir the ambience of the sounds and lyrical breath of the song to make a seamless switch from the upbeat first part of the album into the following heartfelt elegance. Songs like Never Change and Something Beautiful lay down their emotions in a haze of lush acoustic charm and whispered energies to great effect. Seemingly similar in intent the tracks carry their own individual presences to keep things new and though as mentioned for us the album does not retain the impossible to resist carriage from its earlier place in the ear it is never less than compulsive listening.
Japan is an album with two faces, an A and B side which are distinctly different but obvious companions. It makes for an album from Dogtanion which works in different places for each individual and to varying success but it does work and all should find plenty to smile with inside its striking creativity.
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