Recently, on a whim, I decided to listed to Yuragi’s 2018 EP Still Dreaming, Still Deafening while lying down with the lights off. It’s something I used to do quite a bit when I was younger, but haven’t done on the regular for a very long time. I discovered the band—and this EP—about a year ago and have come back to it many time since. It was always enjoyable, but nothing I heard would have prompted me to write about the band. Satisfying, but not amazing is how I would have described the music.
I was surprised at how dramatically the change in listening attitude altered my enjoyment of the music. Encouraged, I tried the same approach with For you, Adroit it but soft, the band’s oddly-named 2021 album. Again, I heard the music in a way that I hadn’t before.
One could argue that it’s untenable to only listen to music while laying in a dark room, and so music should be enjoyable under a broader umbrella of scenarios, and—sure—I’d agree. Still, the conditions in which music is listened are going to have an effect one way or another. Listening to music while working, for example, may lead to it being perceived as exciting and motivating, or unremarkable and forgettable, depending on how the day is going. Brains gonna brain. I suppose my takeaway here is that while there’s no wrong way to enjoy music, a variety of listening attitudes can unlock greater perspective.
Anyhow, Yuragi is a Japanese band commonly defined as “shoegaze”, but genres are frail and increasingly unreliable as artists have long since begun taking the entire history of recorded music and blending up their favorite bits into microgenres. I’ve noticed that the Japanese in particular are fond of picking a musical lane, but pulling in bits and pieces of others to create their own unique sound.
One of Yuragi’s go-to vibes is a quiet/loud dynamic, which reminds me a lot of Sigur Ros. Like a lot of Japanese bands, there’s not much press out there about this one, but in the one article I could find I was unsurprised to read that Sigur Ros is indeed an influence among many band members.1 They also cite John Frusciante and Flea as influences, but those aren’t obvious in the music. Though now I’m dying to hear what Red Hot Chili Peppers would sound like if they played shoegaze.
Both albums are great, but I’m particularly fond of Still Dreaming, Still Deafening’s penchant for low, ambient textures and explosive volume shifts. It’s probably their strongest collection of songs, and has a really moody-yet-uplifting feel to it. Opener “B/C” starts with dark, post-punk bass before bursting into a wash of guitar on “Horizon”. “Utopia” is easily my favorite track, full of dreamy shoegaze goodness, and that vibe continues throughout the center of the record. I really enjoy how the EP circles back to the rolling snare, cavernous bass, and wall of guitars from the first two songs on the closing track “Path of the Moonlit Night”. It makes for a really cool motif, closing out the EP almost exactly how it started.
(For the record, For you, Adroit it but soft contains my favorite Yuragi track, and easily one of my top 5 Japanese shoegaze songs, “While My Waves Wonder”. It’s got a really great melody and a fantastic arrangement. The album isn’t as strong as Still Dreaming, Still Deafening, but it’s worth checking out.)
- Yusuke Matsumura, The new state of shoegazer music that yuragi aspires to be: Newave Japan, Digle Magazine