NIGOApe Sounds (ApesoundsMo‘Wax)

Nigo may very well be Japan’s au courant answer to Andy Warhol. A purveyor of lifestyles (which, he says, extend naturally from clothing to music), his Planet of the Apes–inspired line of street fashion (”A Bathing Ape“) flies off Japanese and Hong Kong shelves as fast as it‘s stocked. In addition, Nigo deejays, contributes to Tokion magazine, designs T-shirts and play-action figures (a Beastie Boy line awaits release), and directs his Apesounds label. Last but — from the sound of his U.S. debut — clearly not least, Nigo dabbles in music. Playing drums and ”orchestrating“ this international collaboration, the Tokyo-born Nigo exhibits the same attention to detail and style that has made him the toast of Japanese hipsters. But rather than force-feeding his cool, Nigo has crafted an understated collage that goes well beyond simply tapping some famous friends. Key to this musical experiment is former Beastie Boy keyboardist Money Mark, who shapes a fair amount of the music with his considerable arsenal of keyboard sounds.

Although the tunes cover a lot of ground — the dark, monotone ”Kung Fu Fightin’“ (not Carl Douglas‘ ’70s hit) is one of the few cuts to add Eastern modes and instruments, while ”Monster“ taps Julia Ferreria for its little-girl alt-pop — the 10 tracks hang together uncommonly well. The balance of the songs roam between alternative rock (the B-52‘s-ish ”Jet Set“ and Ben Lee’s anthemic ”Freediving“), hip-hop-infused sonic adventures (Mark‘s ”The Very Urgent Dub“ and James Lavelle’s sci-fi ”March of the General“) and striking soundscapes (”Too Much [Reprise]“). Other friends include Japanese underground mainstays Major Force‘s Takagi-Kan and writer-producer Masayuki Kudo. Although there’s nothing really new under the sun (even the rising sun), Nigo and his band of ”ape soldiers“ have used their quirky twist on the familiar to create something original and entirely bewitching.

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