REVIEW Electro Green @ Mosaic Studio

Friday, 20 March 2009
Electro Green, Mosaic StudioRecital Studio, Esplanade
Shuta Hasunuma and Team POP OOGA, Japan

A review by Emily Haw

After listening to the Tokyo-based musician and sound artiste Shuta Hasunuma on myspace, this reviewer looked forward to catch his version of folk elecronica in live action at Esplanade's Recital Studio as part of this year's Mosaic Music Festival.

An excerpt from the Esplanade website states, "At Electro Green, enter a magical, off-kilter playground of half-remembered happy dreams, where the sky is the lightest of blues, where clockwork birds chirp and chatter, and gurgling streams trickle amidst blooms and maples. Wrapped in the snug, sunny warmth of this enchanted place, curl up, laugh and play even as a softly whirling disquiet colours the air. "

At the set, the keyboard and drum set were placed closer to the audience, perhaps serving as an indication of who were the performers to look out for. As the lights dimmed, the 3 screens lit up and displayed the video of what looks like a Boeing 747 flying in 3 different angles. It was a minimalistic approach, presenting a whimsical view of what one would see and feel as one looks up into the sky, which seemed to be what Hasunuma's light hearted music seemed to convey.

However, as he and Team POP OOGA, comprising Ryosuke Saito (electric guitar and bass), Shuta Ishizuka (electric and acoustic guitar), Jimanica (drums), entered and started their first set, what they played sounded more like 4 supersonic Concordes roaring across the sky. It was a bigger, stronger and tighter vibe that got many heads in the audience nodding to the beat. As expected, the drummer was a visual feast, with his solid grip on the eclectic jazz-influenced beats and warm interaction with the rest of the band. Hasunuma was equally at ease at the keyboard, dishing out a variety of sampled sounds such as whistles and pops, apart from the piano. Each note was deliberate and delivered with clarity, leaving no moment for one to pause and think until the first song was over.

After getting the audience pumped up with energy from the first set, Hasunuma proceeded with his solo performance at the Mac, which was a lengthy ambient piece which few in the audience could connect with. Using sampled glitches, glares and white noise, it was insinuating mockery at those who have had their computers choke and cough while running at their fastest and yet not able to render as quickly as they would like, ultimately leading to the death of the PCs and the helpless frustration of their owners. Unfortunately, the video screen remained largely unchanged during the second set, with the same 747 flying aimlessly, which otherwise would have helped to provide a clearer explanation of what kind of mood Hasunuma was trying to evoke. Three minutes into the piece, some were already shifting in their seats, and towards the end of the set, a few heads were seen to be nodding, but this time it was not to the beat of the music.

Hence, during the third and final set, Team POP OOGA entrance was warmly welcomed to bring back the souls of those who temporarily visited lala-land. During the last song, the video finally switched to something different and more appropriate, exploding into a myraid of colors and waveforms that swam upstream together with the song.

Although this piece of greenery was neither peaceful nor enchanted, it was still a fun, inviting playground to have friends to hang around with.