Radiant Delight : The Music Of Aldious

If you’d followed me around for a bit, or at least since early 2015, I’d gone on a little musical sojourn. I’m, well at that time, was primarily a rock and metal music kind of guy. My father listened to classic rock music from the 70’s, I listened to bands from around the same period, and I also played with a band that plays within the same vein. I also played a lot of J-pop / rock with my previous main band, Shinkan.

 

 

Sometime in 2015 though, I decided to pursue a more bluesy direction in terms of music and influences. This lent well to my already established pentatonic shenanigans and I started listening to both British and American blues music, from Lightnin’ Hopkins to Eric Clapton, to today’s big names like Joe Bonamassa and John Mayer. I’d kinda given up shredding for a little bit in order to grow more towards a solo geared more towards melodic themes peppered with the occasional bursts of speed and showing a good amount of restraint and control, much like how Michael Schenker does it.

 

Music, guitar based music in particular, had always been very attractive to me. The sound of an electric guitar wailing, huge riffs pounding away and spectacular techniques displayed by players have inspired awe and wonder within me ever since I learned to listen to music on my own.

So for a good long while, I was intro slow and melodic guitar stuff. Admittedly, I lost touch of the flashy guitar playing attributed by a lot of people who’d seen us live. I indulged and took my time playing the blues and occasionally foraying into jazz, even bossa nova.

 

However, just around earlier this year, perhaps sometime after my wife and I got married, something happened.

 

You see, my wife is quite a rocker herself, and we often attribute the miracle of our meeting and eventual relationship to the power of music. Although she has a fairly powerful and well controlled voice that is well suited for belting out long, drawn out, sad ballads (which I’m also a sucker for), she’s also into a lot of rock and metal music. I guess hanging out 24/7 with the love of my life brought me back to rock music, except this time I went back to straight up metal and progressive rock, both modern and vintage.

Most of the metal artists I listen to hail from the European continent, and it’s not surprising that I’m into a lot of German and British heavy metal like the Scorpions, Helloween, Iron Maiden, UFO, MSG and many others. That kind of heavy metal vibe is really attractive to me – soaring vocals, propulsive drumming and searing, technical yet evocative guitar work. Of particular interest is the heavy use of dual, often harmonized guitar solos. I’m not exactly very good in terms of playing harmonized solos, although I have been part of a band that relies heavily on it.

I’d always heard of a band from Osaka, Japan called “Aldious”, and all that I had known about them was that they are an all female metal band, and seem to go all out in dressing up.

 

That’s them right there, and from the left, you’ve got Aruto on drums, Rami the vocalist at the lower center, Toki on guitar on the upper center, Sawa on bass to the center right, and Yoshi the primary lead guitarist on the far right.

Prior to earlier this year, I’ve only seen them in photos, which aren’t exactly a bad thing. But right around February or so, I suddenly felt the urge to look for their music on Youtube and sit down to listen to them.

 

I was not disappointed.

 

The video above is a cut from their 2014 live DVD where they played mostly songs from the “Dazed and Delight” and “District Zero” albums.

 

If you’d noticed, there’s a different girl fronting the band.

Sometime in 2012, the original vocalist Rami, left the band and was replaced by Re:No, formerly a model from KERA agency. From what I’d heard on Youtube, there’s a world of difference in their singing styles – Rami had a powerful, instantly recognizable yet familiarly metal voice, whereas Re:NO has a lower pitched and softer voice. I think I like Re:NO’s voice a little better mostly due to the gravitas in her voice and delivery – she doesn’t have to to have a shrill, high pitched female voice that is fairly prevalent in metal music.

This is the band as they were between 2012 til late 2014, and it’s the line-up I like (slowly turning into “liked”, you’ll find out later on) and I am most familiar with. When Re:NO started with the band, it was reported that the purposely toned down with their on stage outfits into a more “conventional” metal look, apparently so they would be recognized for their skill as musicians rather than girls who happen to be in a band that plays metal music.

In 2014 though, their drummer Aruto left the band to focus on her pending marriage and family plans, which would see her move far from Tokyo where the band is based. Within a while though, the band found a replacement drummer in the form of Marina.

cmwhgseumaaente

I have to admit that at the time I heard of “District Zero” and “Dazed and Delight”, I was totally blown away with Aruto’s skill, talent and stamina on the drums. She’s got the heaviness in her playing, and she has the stamina to keep the band going through long sets and displayed a good deal of technical ability and playing that most would attribute to a more conventional male drummer. Marina certainly had big shoes to fill since Aruto seems like a more well built body and hitherto unknown heavy metal prowess. Comparing the two, Marina looks more “frail” and dainty, and quite frankly I was expecting the band’s sound to turn more mellow or go into a more pop-ish, like Scandal’s music.

 

I was so wrong.

 

The above song is “Sweet Temptation”, one of the songs from their latest album and their first with Marina, “Radiant A”. I love the almost nu-metal-ish riffs that runs into a melodic guitar solo that is brilliantly done by Yoshi, peppered with a cool tapping lick by Toki, anchored by Sawa’s boombastic bass and Re:NO’s singing that’s oozing with conviction.

Going back to Marina for a little bit – this girl can bash!

It’s somehow not too surprising though – she just happens to be Terry Bozzio’s stepdaughter. Marina had been playing drums before her mom got married to Terry, but one can safely bet that Terry may have taught her a thing or two. After all, not everyone can tout one of the world’s premiere drum virtuosos as their dad, or in this case probably oto-san…

…or oto-sama…

…or a buncha other things.

083111-bozzio-opener

For those not in the know, old man Terry is a drum virtuoso who had played alongside Frank Zappa, and has a successful solo career going on.

 

 

**I had to stop writing for a little bit to collect my thoughts because I am trying hard to to fanboygush all over Marina**

 

cu4rnjfusaegzri

With the addition of Marina, this is how the bands looks like now.

500px-aldious_-_die_for_you_promo

Yes, they still dress up. Girls will be girls.

 


 

You might be saying though that I’m into this band because I’m a guy, and they are girls who play metal music.

scandal-departure-1

But that’s not exactly the case because if so, then I’d also be a big fan of the Scandal girls… but I’m not.

 

Although it really is the case that in any of the band’s iterations, they’ve always had stunning ladies with equally stunning chops*, playing good old heavy metal.

Most of Aldious’ songs are heavy metal, although you do get the occasional soft ballads and pop rock songs aimed at radio airplay. Since most of their catalog consists of hard hitting, headbang inducing songs, they are fairly popular with guys and people who’re into metal music.

It’s not just simple riffing either, although some of their songs have familiar sounding patterns. A lot of their songs showcase quite challenging riffs and passages, anchored by bass lines that shadow the guitars and all held down by fast and heavy beats. One of the most enjoyable aspects of their music however is the frequent use of harmonized guitar solos by Toki and Yoshi.

vfcompany-13

Girls with loud guitars and shredding : check

 

 

I’m not, well at least wasn’t, a big fan of harmonized guitar parts. It was familiar, all to familiar I guess since I listen to a lot of metal music. Sure, Iron Maiden used it alot, so did Helloween. Paul Gilbert does so too, and Marty and Jason became famous playing ridiculously hard leads in complete harmony. I only started to really appreciate harmonized leads during my time with Slash n Burn because that was also a feature of the music they made. My sister pointed out that there was a lot of skill involved in playing harmonized passages, mainly due to the fact that it’s two players playing something in unison, albeit in different keys, and that timing has to be nailed down right otherwise it’s going to sound like a pile of crap.

Thankfully, the girls are quite adept with this and they have wonderfully made harmonized solos. Check out the song below (夜桜 / “Yozakura”) in which Toki starts the pedal note driven solo and Yoshi follows through soon after, going into a tapping passage before resolving the solo and Re:NO comes back on.

It’s not out of this world shredding, don’t look for “Rising Force” shred, but their solo is definitely melodic and some parts fairly challenging.

 

Of the two guitar players in the band, Toki is quite easily my favorite and is my current (with Marina being really close to overtake her) favorite member. She’s actually more of a rhythm player compared to Yoshi, yet she’s got good chops since she either starts off or finishes the guitar solos, and plays harmony with Yoshi most of the time.

e38388e382ad_aldious_2013_1124_0758-21

 

One of the best things about her though is her stage presence – she looks small framed and demure, but onstage, she becomes an explosive mix of pink guitar and blond hair, constantly running around and banging her head like there is no tomorrow. She’s also skilled enough to be recognized by various companies, as shown by her endorsing Hughes & Kettner, ESP and previously, Combat Guitars. A real life rockin’ chic with skills to boot.

esp_chunpa-v_aldious20toki20signature_02

The adorably expensive ESP signature model guitar that Toki uses

 

 

The silent but deadly bandleader is main girl Yoshi. While she is in a loud heavy metal band which calls for playing that is definitely loud, it’s her persona that sets her apart from Sawa and Toki. While the other girls are running around throwing smiles and playing their heads off, Yoshi mostly stays in her spot, playing in silence until she lets loose a her shred chops.

50v

She does look up from time to time to smile.

lp_3_img_2089_590

Not surprisingly, the band bio lists her as the main songwriter in the band. It’s not clear to me though if that included the lyrics to their songs. Interestingly, for a heavy metal band, it’s quite easy to tell Yoshi’s leads from Toki’s, probably due to the fact that she prefers to use a PRS Modern Eagle. Yoshi has a more classic rock-ish vibe to her sound, rounded and has a good amount of midrange to it. Toki has a more aggressive and modern sound, not so trebly but has considerably more grit to it.

What I like so much about her leads is it’s not so much about outright speed or American Shred School, but she has a more Euro, almost German metal vibe to it. While Toki plays mostly melodic lines, Yoshi provides most of the meaty and fast soloing in their songs. Definitely not like the Great Kat or some other female shredders, but extremely oozing with metal, finesse and quite often sexy.

 

 

One of the more “neglected” aspects of rock and metal music is the the part of the bass player. People mostly relegate the bass player to single note parts that go with the bass drum, which is all fine with regular tempo, 4/4 music. When you have blast beats with constant change of tempo and frequent breakdowns, you need a bass player who’s adept with all the changes going on while keeping the groove and their bassist Sawa does an amazing job at that. She is easily the smallest member of the band, and I am quite amazed at how well she plays with her apparently small hands.

I especially like the fact that she’s a finger-style player, allowing her to slap and tap at will.

20415_artist

tumblr_nx91rhg1qx1utitago1_1280

And for someone playing in a heavy metal band, she is almost always smiling ear to ear.

 

Lastly, we arrive with their current vocalist (and one of my favorites in today’s j-rock scene) the inimitable Re:NO. Although her main occupation prior to joining Aldious was as a fairly popular model from KERA, she had some experience singing as part of a short lived pop duo Suitei Shoujo.

tumblr_mvhssdkrfi1qitubzo1_500

Yep, that’s Re:NO in her past life. LOL

While she had indeed sung in the past, she is said to have had no prior experience being in a rock or heavy metal band, quite unlike the rest of the girls that have been members of a different band prior to forming Aldious.

So from a pop idol / model mold, she broke out and transformed into the blond haired heavy metal goddess we now know today.

tumblr_muw2dhh0l71qitubzo1_500

She’s not exactly the high pitched songstress that’s common in metal music. Her singing voice seems sad at times, low in tone and filled with conviction. I don’t understand very much of what she is singing, but hearing her manner of delivery can sometimes make you feel like you know what she is trying to say. She certainly knows how to drive a crowd wild as seen on their lives shows, and is able to communicate and reach out to the people.

img_4527

 

 


 

 

So far, they’d released one album with Marina on drums and it seems the girls are all poised for a bright future ahead of them. I’m really excited to hear more from them in the future, and my wife and I had agreed that our planned future visit to Japan will include stops that will allow us to see our favorite bands – hers being Luna Sea, and mine including these girls.

5901963

 

If you’re a heavy metal fan and you don’t mind the all-Japanese language singing (which quite frankly is beautifully done), give these girls a listen. They’re not all image and cuteness, although their Twitter and Ameblo accounts show otherwise. They seem to be normal girls having the time of their lives, living their dreams and enjoying it. But they mean business and are prepared to break your neck with super headbanging.

 

 

As for me, as long as there is metal in my heart, the music of these lovely Kanjo ladies will always be blasting out of my headphones.

 

 

 

I leave you with their superb cover of a famous Imai Miki tune, “Piece of My Wish”.

 

 

 

~


*chops – technical music skills
I tried really hard not to gush all over Marina and Toki. Whew.

Pokemon Go And Getting Lost In The Flow

Earlier this morning, I left the house at the usual time at around 0300. I felt like taking a walk today, and left the car at home just so I can indulge in the early morning air and catch some exercise while I’m at it.

I’d just barely closed the gate behind me when I spotted a grey Hyundai Accent hatchback at the street corner about 50 meters from our house. Paying no attention to it, I started walking. Almost immediately though, I noticed through the moderately tinted windshield of some movement – like something was being picked up from the floor of the vehicle and being passed around the front seats. It was then that I noticed that it was proceeding very, very slowly, almost at a person’s walking pace, if not slower. Its headlights were turned off, only the parking lights were on and the hazards were blinking. The occupants were looking to the back of the vehicle, then looked forward and turned to look from side to side, as it they were looking for something.

 

Nowadays, there have been a lot of news about people being shot on the street for being alleged drug pushers and what not. Since I have a deep distrust in the manner by which vigilantes carry out their dirty jobs, and there would definitely be “collateral damage” under such a system, I thought this might be one of those instances.

  • car creeping along suspiciously
  • occupants seem to be scoping out stuff
  • me being out at an inopportune time

 

I was getting ready duck the fuck out the way of any damn bullets that might come flying my way. I continued walking forward anyway since I was in the more real danger of being late, and there seemed to be no signs of impending death from the passenger side window – I think.

A few tense seconds passed and the moment of truth came when I crossed directly in front of the passenger side window. I held my breath, started humming “Komm, süsser Tod” and there was…

 

 

 

n_logo_thunderclap

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t get shot, I didn’t get robbed.

 

n_logo_thunderclap

 

I breathed a sigh of relief that I can still go to work and come home to my family afterwards.

 

Curiosity got the best of me so I glanced inside the car, the inside of which was by now fully visible as it was lit by the street lights from the other side of the road.

 

Both the driver and occupant were holding up their mobile devices, and playing Pokemon Go. I could tell via the screens on their phones and the screen captured maps that friends of mine have posted on Facebook. While I didn’t get shot with a 9mm, they did shoot bad glances at me then proceeded forward.

 

The car continued its snail-like pace right up to the plaza at the upper end of our street, and I lost sight of it from there. I continued on my journey to the office without further incident.

635939170983824587-1850660804_dude_wtf

 

Seriously though, Pokemon Go.

Jesus.

 

 


 

 

For my dear readers who aren’t in the know, Pokemon Go is the latest mobile app craze that’s taking the world by storm. It’s based on the popular manga, anime and game franchise and is basically an app that uses your phone’s GPS locator to send you on a journey to catch all 151 (?) Pokemon. I think this app will also allow you to grow, train and eventually battle other Pokemon trainers.

 

logo

 

According to most sources I’d read up on, Pokemon Go was envisioned so people can go on quests which will take them to various places, and to allow the younger generation (that are almost always cooped up at home behind a computer screen) to go out, see the world and maybe make new friends in the process.

And it’s true – there had been many documented instances of next door neighbors who had been previously oblivious to each other, meeting and hanging out for the first time, or crowds of people who end up at the same location and sharing their passion for the franchise. Young millenials who were content to be in a darkened room and hanging out in the cyber world are now coming out of their homes and hanging out with others in real life. Even the older folks who were around playing the original games have gone on the crazed wagon, mostly because now it had become possible to go on quests that involve moving around, something the Gameboy and the ported versions of the original Pokemon games didn’t allow us to  do.

pokemon-go

credit to the Manila Bulletin for this screen cap

Here in the Philippines, the game was finally released a couple of days back to much fanfare. In a nation that had a good chunk of then 90’s kids and teens growing up around the first beloved Pokemon anime and Gameboy series (I myself played the Red / Green versions, etc. what-nots of the original game series) this was big news. People like my sister first downloaded the then mirrored “bootleg” version of this app late last month, and were dismayed when the app got blocked prior for the actual release date.

Now that the apk was finally and officially released, the past 24 hours had filled my Facebook feed with all sorts of posts about friends who’d downloaded the app, and started their quests to be the very best.

raf750x1000075tfafafaca443f4786

It’s all good really, and in the name of totally hanging out with other people apart from stalking each other on Facebook, this app is really something.

 

 


 

 

However, there are some inherent dangers to the game, those playing it and people around them.

 

Let me point out some of these from my point of view.

 

You see, a lot of people can get lost within a given activity, a psychological phenomenon known as “flow“.

flow-33

I like the band too LOL

I learned about this during our infamously dreaded INDIBEH (Individual Behavior) class, facilitated by the legendary Adonna Esleta. In a nutshell, people involved with a certain activity will experience full involvement, enjoyment and focus. This “heightened” sense of involvement often allows the person involved in the activity to make “better” use of their mental faculties, able to provide output that would otherwise not be possible had they been not caught within the flow. Their focus is often so intense it is hard to break through, and if you do break it, they can lose the experience. Street lingo describes it roughly as being in the zone, and being in this zone can make feel almost devoid of all other inputs from the outside world, being very focused on the task at hand. Some examples of this phenomenon include writers getting lost in thought, musicians writing or performing music, race drivers who are so in one with the vehicle that they feel and see nothing else but the race they are winning, video gamers who lose all sense of time while playing and so on.

I myself frequently fall into this zone of complete immersion and thought, and when I was still actively writing and recording songs, I can miss meals by many hours because I cannot think of anything else but the song I am working on. I can also fall within this zone when I play a guitar solo, and in my experience when I’m fully in it, I do not think of what notes to play and how to play them, I just do. I can attribute it to muscle memory, but my mind knows ahead of time what I should play and how to play it. There instances I replay our gig vids and I go “Wow! How the heck did I play that!?”.

 

That’s the flow experience as best as I shortly summarize it, and you can wiki quickly or read more about it here , here and here. I leave it entirely up to you if you want to read up on it, and there are loads of good references all over the net.

 

~

 

While the zone and being in it is good and isn’t really a problem by itself, it becomes so when it takes away attention from the real world.

 

The main gist of Go is to get people to move from one place to another in search of Pokemon. If say one is within the flow, they may forget to look both ways while crossing the street, endangering themselves by lowering their awareness to street traffic.

They may lose sense of being law abiding citizens and find themselves trespassing into property, something they inherently know is wrong but unable to process in their mind since they are caught within the flow.

They may engage in otherwise dangerous physical activities like jumping across gaps and roofs, which may not be the kind of activities that they normally do, but being lost within their zone, they are unable to think otherwise. Of course, injuries are in order whenever we allow ourselves to autopilot into things, something that non-Newtypes aren’t built for.

They may take their minds off their driving, and start looking left and right for Pokemon instead of looking left and right at an intersection. Given the Filipino propensity to “multi-task” while doing things (driving among them) this will certainly happen. And with the Anti Distracted Driving Act having been signed into law recently, we may have an influx of people being caught and penalized in trying to be the very best – while driving.

 

~
I am not discouraging anyone from downloading, playing and enjoying Pokemon Go. If you are a millenial, cooped at home and wants something to do and take you outdoors, this is the shit. However, remember to leave some semblance of sense whenever you are out journeying to catch ’em all. Look both ways while crossing the street, do not trespass, obey the law at all times. Remember, those virtual pocket monsters won’t guarantee your freedom should you end up behind bars for doing something stupid. Most of all keep yourself, your friends and the people around you safe, so everyone can go on and enjoy this app.

 

Also, please do not go hunting while driving. Keep your eyes and mind on the road, unless you want Jesus to take the wheel.

 

 

 

~


PS. I do not play this game and have no intention of doing so. I’m already (still rather) hooked to Real Racing 3.

Talk. Communicate.

It’s been more than a month since I’d written anything down. Since my last post, err let me me correct that, for a good long while, I’d been busy.

Let’s rephrase it – we’d been busy.

 

BUSY

 

I mostly stay at home nowadays, but for some reason unbeknownst even to myself, I actually enjoy being at home now.

 

About a year ago or so, I would have absolutely died had I been staying still at home for more than a few hours at a time.

Since early this year, or at least since my wife (…now, my girlfriend then) started to live with us on the weekends, I’d found it to be very enjoyable to be at home. I have had so much free time since then, it’s almost a sin when compared to most people. But while at first I did feel uneasy at first spending so much time at home, I have taken the opportunity to catch up with my family, talking and sharing stories about everyday life. I like sitting down with my wife over milk (yes, we are both pretty voracious with it) and just talking – mostly about my day, her day, music, our collective crushes (haha), the questions of pending parenthood and all sorts of things. We talk everywhere at home – in our room, while I practice guitar, while she is reading up for her online university course, while I cook, while we do the laundry.

I’d always pointed out to her that I take great delight at our inherent ability to, say take a random subject and just talk about it. On a deeper level though, of course there are days that we don’t talk about the birds and the bees, and there are darker topics that float around but we still manage to talk about it.

I think that’s a very important thing for people – married or not to talk to each other. Directly communicating with each other bridges the gap of silence between us, and allows our thoughts to jump over the wall that silence builds between all of us.

communication

Communication allows us to know what goes on within our minds. I mean sure, some of the more “adept” people would be able to tell what we have on our minds. My wife does this magically, and she is quite honestly the very first person I’d been in a relationship with who’s able to know when to speak up and when to let me be, then picking an opportune time to see if I’m ok, or if I need to be violently shaken back to reality.

 

 

Part of human interaction involves us looking for unspoken cues – body language, facial expression, discreet actions etc. These help us know and hopefully avoid things in advance.

However, we all should not be dependent on assumptions, or reading between the lines. Sometimes it helps yes, but mostly, strict dependence on assumptions alone serve to feed errors in knowing how one person or party thinks or feels.

 

Our assumptions and our personal contexts differ from one another. Assumptions need validation, and while we can check through many things to validate our our thoughts on something, there is no better way to do this than to dip our feet into things and just talk. However, nutty things like ego and pride often keep us from directly communicating our thoughts to each other. A lot of people though seem to be predisposed to be more concerned with saving their egos that saving relationships, or at least finding out how and why people react in a certain way in certain situation. I for one have a lot of pride in myself and stuff, but I try to keep my ego out of the way and try to get in touch with people around me. Social norms dictate that men shut up, but in this day and age, I think it had become more important than ever to reach out and communicate with each other.

You see, I, err we (my wife and I) believe that enjoying ourselves while in complete silence is pretty much the most amazing thing for couples to have, the ability to talk about things stands coequal to it. We see a lot of elder couples who talk and enjoy each other’s company, and those who just randomly talk about anything and keep things going.

I kinda want to be able to remain like this – talk and grow together. With my wife, I hope the ability to talk and find our way around things would never go away.

 

So whenever you have a disagreement with someone, talk about it. Talking and knowing about things do not make less of anyone, but pride and enormous amounts of ego unchecked will. Always validate your assumptions with facts gleaned from the person you are thinking of, because there is no better way to know about what goes on a person’s mind than for said person to say what he / she’s thinking about.

 

Talk.

 

It never hurts to do so.

~

Under the Lights…

IMG_74495617796593

Under the lights, I am free.

As I weave stories within my mind, for a few fleeting moments I am an ornate story teller, eloquent in the language of music.

I am free to express my thoughts, as my hands move freely in ways I have not known moments prior.

Sadness.

Bliss.

Love.

Hate.

Despair.

Anger.

Loss.

Confusion.

All the colors of emotion come gushing whenever I am under the lights. It is my ardent wish that everyone feels the same as I my heart and mind move as one for a short period of time.

But real life had set in, and I am suddenly bound.

I had been abandoned yet no one has hegemony over my spirit.

Bound by every everything man made, yet I was set free by something perceived by the mind of man himself.

I sit in solitude, and I let my mind take me back to a place and time long gone.

Under the lights, I was free.

~