Takanori Ishikawa (a.k.a. T.M.Revolution (a.k.a. Takanori Makes Revolution)) is a superstar in his home country of Japan where he has performed for audiences of 20,000 people, has provided music for Gundam Seed, and has even done voice acting for the previously mentioned anime as well as Rurouni Kenshin. But despite his popularity in Japan, he had been entirely obscure in the United States until 2003 when he made his first U.S. appearance at Otakon, a large anime convention in Baltimore, Maryland, where he performed in front of up to four thousand anime fans. Later that same year, a California-based record company called Tofu Records opened for business. With a mission to bring “the best Japanese music to the United States” they included T.M.Revolution in their roster, thus making his music available to the American public. But even so, T.M.Revolution is still something of an obscure commodity here in the States, which is why I bring you his music today.
Seventh Heaven is T.M.Revolution’s most recent release in the United States. A friend of mine who had been to his Otakon concert first played Seventh Heaven for me in his car. That was my first real exposure to j-pop (Japanese pop) outside of anime. That first listen was an incredible experience; it was practically a brand new genre to me performed by an artist with immense talent. Although I will admit that Takanori Ishikawa’s androgynous good looks threw me off at first. Man or woman? I didn’t know. And the weirdness factor just increased by the fact that there were two of him on the cover of Seventh Heaven and he was shown hugging himself. But eventually the musical experience took over my mind.
I think it was the song “Zips” that really got me hooked. The fast-paced, chugging guitars really catch your attention. Then other elements add on until the guitars disappear into the background. But those guitars are sneaky little buggers. They’ve drawn you into the music before it ever reaches its peak. Sneaky guitars… Clever T.M.Revolution…
One of the other highlights on Seventh Heaven is “Engraved on the Moon,” which is a more midtempo song than “Zips.” However, it still keeps the energy levels high and has a particulary memorable chorus. The words aren’t all that memorable since I don’t speak a lick of Japanese, but the musical structuring of the chorus makes it sticks to your brain like a musical glue. I just know that I’ll alternately be humming that chorus and “Zips” as the day goes on. Tricksy T.M.Revolution…
Buy T.M.Revolution’s album Seventh Heaven
T.M.Revolution – Zips T.M.Revolution – Engraved on the Moon