The University of Iowa University of Iowa

International Music Spotlight: A Guide to Asian Shoegaze

This is KRUI’s International Music Spotlight, where we bring to the floor music that comes from all across the globe. In this first edition, we will take a look at a guide for Asia-based shoegaze music. This encompasses recommendations for albums, EPs, and singles that may be of interest to those who enjoy Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, and the Cocteau Twins.

  1. Glitter Album by Pasteboard

Established in 2001 from its origins in Saitama, Japan, Pasteboard is a band founded by Mihoko Tanoue and Makoto Igarashi. Here, their 2006 album entitled Glitter was released under the abcdefj*record label. What one can find are cushioned vocals and echoed halls of smoothly plucked guitar. It introduces a series of songs about one’s unrequited passion for music, as it incites an ode to the band Slowdive and what it means to be a “shoegazer”. 

  1. Blaze Down His Way Like The Space Show Album by Burrrn

Founded in Tokyo, Japan in the year of 2005, Burrrn is a band primarily led by Hitomi Torii and Hideharu Watanabe. Their 2011 album entitled Blaze Down His Way Like The Space Show, released under R-R-R-Records. Provided here are quickened, sugary vocals and brassy instrumentation, paired with distorted guitar riffs. Tracks within this album provoke a feeling of dreaminess and clouded illuminations. 

  1. nightlife EP by yuragi

Japan-based band yuragi began making music in 2015, with their most recent release being this EP entitled nightlife. Released under the management of Sango Records, this EP, offers piping, high-frequency vocals accompanied by lush stretches of reverb-weighted instrumentation. Songs across the album explore urban imagery and city life. 

  1. Urban Twilight Single by Oeil

Another band sprouted from Tokyo, Japan, Oeil formed in 2007. With leadership from Mitsuko Hoshino and Takafumi Hibino, the band’s remastered single entitled Urban Twilight that was released in 2016 under Submarine Records. It features a set of songs that display bubbly, ringing vocals that coincide with catchy, bright reflections of instrumentation. Songs that are discoverable in this single exude the feel for homesickness and yearning. 

  1. California Nebula Album by Default (缺省)

Based in Beijing, China, Default (缺省) is a band that was most recognized for its 2017 album entitled California Nebula, released under SJ Records. The album exhibits sounds of hushed sonority and thrashing whips of chorus and flanging delay. Vocally, the tracks are peacefully edgy, with instrumentation that emit roaring blares of phased chorus. Tracks among this album manifest atmospheres of escapism and potent nostalgia. 

  1. Unexpectedly EP by Megumi Acorda 

From Manila, Philippines, Megumi Acorda is 5-piece band known for their 2018 album entitled Unexpectedly. The album was recently reissued by Boring Production Records and Genjitsu Stargazing Society. Unexpectedly emanates compressed, chasmic vocals that are teamed with vibrations of resonance and plangency. Songs contained within this EP convey themes that revolve around the hopeless romantic trope, with bliss and heartfelt bathos. 

  1. demo Single by cheeky things 

Derived from the Philippines, cheeky things is a newly-founded band that started out in 2021 with their first big release being the demos EP. It comprises of 3 songs that effuse telephonic, static-ridden vocals and fuzzed out ascensions of guitar. Lyrically moody and dreary in tonality, what the EP constitutes is a driven burning for a definitive description of inexpressible emotions, when conflicted with the self. In the album, the band attempts to make sense out of these disconcerting confusions all within a fazed-out ambience. 

  1. Split EP by Ozzga, Polar Lows

Ozzga, another Filipino band, was founded in 2014. Their most recent release includes their Split EP, which is 4 tracks compound of buzzing extensions of guitar, with crunchy, jangly accents. Two of the songs were made with the company of Polar Lows. Vocally featuring a harmonious melody of whispery, muzzled hums of fullness, each track on this EP will make one feel like getting on the subway train to no particular destination. They are just there for the cruise, meandering through blurred visions. 

  1. Fogesque Album by FOG

FOG is a band from Seoul, South Korea, that formed in 2018 with Gyungwon Sin on lead. A notable release of theirs would be their 2020 album entitled Fogesque, which was released under Gezellig Records. With limitless belts of chamber-like shimmer, and mumbled purrs of vocals, the album includes tracks that explicate a collective love letter to the broken-hearted. With symphonies made of noise gates and slap-back vocals, the songs in this album are lucidly tranquil. 

  1.  Untitled Album by Cosmic Child 

Emerging from Singapore, Cosmic Child released its 2017 Untitled album which under Middle Class Cigars Records. The album is prosperous with halls of drowsy vocals and psychedelic like instrumentation that make the songs all the more well-blended, and shadowy with its electronic qualities. While listening to this album, one might feel like a leading hero protagonist or main character. The tracks found within this album make you feel like you are on top of the world, more or less in a poised and suave manner with respect for what one has gone through and what one once was. 

Credits to Casper Bakker for the cover image logo design.