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Sunday, January 24, 2010


Written by Alexandre Martinazzo

Because of its ability to take any sort of creation and make it a perfect consummation product, whether it’s hight-tech or cultural, Japan has for a long time been preceded by its reputation as a sort of huge and voracious sponge. But the sponge is not only hungry: it’s also pretty magical, when it brings back old ghosts of western culture. The Candy Spooky Theater (TCST), and the duet formed by Rose de Reficul (Lucifer spelled backwards) and Guiggles appeared around the same period, in the early 2000’s. My first is an indie gothic rock band, or more specifically a “spooky kei” band (they mean to be scary, but not because of their music), traumatized by circus world, and Tim Burton’s movies – as someone I know quite well. My second is a couple of libertine troubadours dressed like Halloween from two centuries ago, and founders of a kind of trend called “Victorian underground”.

What they share is that decadent and grotesque world that draws the attention, catches the eye of the beholder. TSCT is childish hydra, a schizophrenic outgrowth of Tokyo’s alternative scene, lost between the Rocky Horror Pictures Show – with less Wagnerian influences – and slasher b movies, between Danny Elfman and one of those j-rock band one can hear any time of the day on TV. They love Dir en grey, Slipknopt, Rammstein and Bela Lugosi, they define themselves as a “comical horror vox” or a “a shameless electric bass”, the live in basements and call their albums weird names like Pumpkins scream in the dead of a night parade (?). Degenerated cousins Rose et Guiggles, as for them, convey a similar fussiness in their underground worship, their bourgeois use of rococo iconography and French words… But is that a crime? Haziness and tendency to improvisation make the whole thing entertaining.

TCST, like R&G, are the children of a underground world with gargantuan appetite, which the city, once the lights turned off, never ceased to feed, as an answer to the heavy social climate that characterize urban life in Japan. As often, the result is some sort of a big whatever. But isn’t that in a way intended? The same way black man is to emotion what Greek is to reason, Japanese people don’t need to find a meaning in everything, contrary to us French.

The Elephant Man marrying Elizabeth Bathory with Tod Browning as best man, Guiggles et Rose are also the author of a very recent, and probably very mentally affected adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, called “Alice fell into the hole”, with the heroin played by an crazy old midget with a wig (seen on Mika Ninagawa’s work) – when they just don’t scare the audience in small theaters. TCST tinkers very amusing videos of their songs, like the one called “The Wind’up electric chair”: wrecked human puppets with sepulchral make up, messed up sound with sardonic noise notes, and intended cheesiness when it comes to most of the “special effects”… These deranged clowns sure seem to confirm the idea that Japan and its underground scenes are a real circus.

One can find some “punk tone” in that crazy bunch: because they don’t seem to care about anything else; because they don’t seem to have experienced the past twenty years; and, well, because they suck at singing. Abounding, daubed and dressed in a very meticulous way, filled with sometimes opposed influences, they are the eaters of an underground fire, underground to the bone chewed by the dog of dandy’s hell. And because they laugh at it, why shouldn’t we?

"It's so dreamy, oh fantasy free me
So you can't see me, no not at all
In another dimension, with voyeuristic intention
Well-secluded, I see all
With a bit of a mind flip..."

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