P-VINE is thrilled to be releasing the first vinyl pressing ofYapoos’Yapoos Keikakuto cap off a year that has also seenDadada IsmandDialY wo Mawase, their third and fourth albums, get their first taste of vinyl treatment.
In 1987,Yapoos released their debut album as a singular unit; an album that would come to define an underground movement in Japan dissatisfied with the limitations imposed by strict ideas of how pop music ought to be in 80s Japan.
Yapoos Keikaku stands subversive on a number of fronts depending on who you ask: it’s an exploration of avant-garde themes inpop, an early example of ‘anti-idol’ subculture, a critique of gender constructs,
but it’s equally a record full of killer Japanese new-wave and synth pop.
Yapoos Keikaku was four years in the making for Yapoos having been formed by the spirited Jun Togawa looking for an outlet to express her ideas in a presentable band outfit.
A Year before their formation, Togawa contributed operatic melodies to a record of combating electronics and japanese kayokyoku with composer Koji Ueno as the band Guernica on their debut Kaizou e no Yakudou--
an album directed and produced by Haruomi Hosono which today remains as unique and bizarre as it was when first released.
Two years later,their first release under the name of Yapoos and Jun Togawawas a hint of what was to come, and the undeniable charisma emanating from Togawa’s performances can be seen in videos as she toys and slinks
between contrasting angelic and demonic personas.
By the time of Yapoos Keikaku, Togawa more or less had a free rein over the vocal arrangements and lyrics for the band,and this is where Togawa has carved out an iconic legacy with songs both explicit and surreal.
There’s running sci-fi themes on the album as seen in “Barbara Sexeroid” where he speaks as an android with “no civil liberties”, and on“Love Clone” where she falls in love with a figure produced from her DNA to which she remarks, “Ah, Narcissism!”.
Thetongue-in-cheek playfulness to her lyrics follows her across the album with tracks like “Yakiniku no you ni” as she ponders love in the eyes of a butcher, and “Collector” where she takes up the role of a crazed collector of insects.
Commentators have linked Togawa’s style to Japan’s historyof producing “ero-guro” works of art - a word coined from thecombination of the “erotic” and “grotesque”,
and whoseintense imagery can be seen in works from master ukiyoepainter Utagawa Kuniyoshi to modern album covers for FlyingLotus and Laurel Halo created by Shintaro Kago and Makoto Aida respectively.
However, such comparisons, while useful in placing her work in the social context of artists exploring taboo subjects in Japanese society, only captures certain aspects of her varied catalogue.
The seventh track “RoudouIan Shouka,” is a rallying cry of support for manual labour workers, and it’s this humanism across her work that perhaps hits closest to her own artistic intentions as she strives to free the shackles from the dispossessed.
The contributions by the other band members also deserve a great deal of credit, and composition duties were assigned evenly with Takao Higae on guitar, Toshiro Senzui on drums,
Nobuo Nakahara on bass and Yoichiro Yoshikawa andMitsuro Kotaki on synthesizers each credited with their own two tracks.
Their use of electronic samples, synthesizers and programmed drum patterns complement the band set-up and place techno-pop at the forefront in both sound and aesthetic.
It’s an album that obsessively questions its relations to technology, and with themes relevant to the present day,hopefully this reissue marks the beginning of a new era for Yapoos.