On May 10, siraph released their long-awaited debut album “past & current.” After a single and one mini-album both released in 2016, we finally have a real deal album from the band. It spawns 10 tracks across 40 minutes of playtime, featuring beautiful, confident instrumentation and composition throughout. As far as I can tell, the group self-released it too. The band, which formed in 2016 consists, of 6 members and they all play a key part on this comprehensive album. The name of the album may hint at siraph’s unique history.
About a decade before siraph formed, there was this band called School Food Punishment. From their very first major release back in 2007 ‘air, feel, color swim’, I was in love. Always ethereal, a little jazzy with beautiful keys, soulful vocals, and never sparing on the synth-work; School Food Punishment was the first Japanese band I ever fell in love with. I regularly listen to them to this day.
They enjoyed decent success, releasing two more EPs and two full albums, with a few songs being used for anime openings and the like. They broke up in 2012 due to creative differences and the singer Yumi Uchimura went on to form La La Larks, billed as the band’s successor. In 2016 Masayuki Hasuo and Hideaki Yamasaki, School Food Punishment’s keyboardist and bassist formed siraph with the Argentine-Japanese singer Annabel. With the release of ‘past & current’, I think siraph is more deserving of the title.
That’s not to say siraph sounds ‘more like School Food Punishment’ without having anything else to offer. There’s a range of sounds, influences, and feelings to be discovered on ‘past & current’. The band’s debut album features many distinct qualities; a funky touch to the guitar, nuanced tones, textures, and soundscapes, and plenty of engaging composition. The band doesn’t venture into math or post-rock territory nor does go into extreme bleep-bloop territory though. It’s all pretty accessible buts its mix of live instrumentation and programmed sound comes together to form something beautiful. The track ‘words’ is emblematic of this.
Segments of this new album by siraph are certainly reminiscent of School Food Punishment of course. With the same bassist and keyboardist, the way the band grooves feels familiar. There are nuances that make ‘past & current’ stand apart though. While the core ingredients are largely the same, rock and pop music with lots of piano and synth, how the meal is cooked and spiced makes all the differences. There are jazzy touches to the album, keys in the air and confidence the band brings to their playing; the bass and guitar interplay on ‘silence in the dark’ is smooth as hell. But, the whole thing feels so direct, so intentional. siraph has a swifter bite.
Even within the conventional song structures the band employees, it feels like most of these tracks have individual movements that transcend the verse-chorus-verse-chorus setup. Just listen to ‘hyos’ to see what I mean. The mix and recording on ‘past & future’ make every element feel distinct, each bit of instrumentation sounds clear yet succeeds in complementing its neighboring sounds. siraph has made an album that should please large swaths of people if they get a chance to hear it. Fans of the old band and newcomers. Those who enjoy catchy tunes and those who want a more comprehensive music experience. Pop, rock, jazz, and synth heads should all be able to find commonality as well the composition nerds.
siraph has made an album for all of us.
You can find out where to listen to ‘past & current’ here.