Imagine if you can, a Japanese version of The Shins and Gomez with a touch of folk. What you're picturing is more then likely very close to musician Shugo Tokumaru. Tokumaru, born in 1980, is a Japanese singer/songwiriter who possesses one of the most unique and unusual sounds in the present music scene in Tokyo.
Tokurmaru started out as almost any other average teen male, fantasizing about becoming a rock god. While Tokumaru had already begun producing his own sound he pursued this dream in the Tokyo rock band called The Gellers.
Tokumaru performed vocals and guitar for the indie alternative rock band, which released a self-titled album in 2007. The Gellers had a slightly haphazard sound with vocals relying on a decent amount of screaming so it wasn't much of a surprise that after their first album they went on a hiatus. After The Gellers put things on the backburner, Tokumaru moved forward with his own sound, which couldn't have been farther from that of his previous bands.
Tokumaru took his music down a few octaves and over to the mellower side of the spectrum. In his music he relies very little on his voice, choosing to instead focus on softer musical sounds through a vast variety of instruments. Each song hits your ears like a bright collage of sound occasionally laced with Tokumaru's light, airy voice, which whispers through songs.
Songs like "The Mop" and "Paparazzi" off his second album Night Piece are light, upbeat and reminiscent of something you've heard before while at the same time being a completely new musical experience. They focus mostly on the instrumental sound with little to no vocals. Then just when you think you can peg Tokumaru's music and believe you know what to expect the track changes and so does the game. Tokumaru jumps easily from one sound to another. He moves from the fresh, bubbly beats in "The Mop" onto a completely different and intriguing flow in "The Button" off his latest album Exit. Tokumaru possesses the ability to create a completely new sound from track to track while not wavering from his distinct sound. However, his incredibly unique sound is not the most impressive aspect of this rising artist.
Every lyric, whistle, ding of a bell and pluck of a string in Tokumaru's songs are performed by him. He is a one-man band playing around 100 various instruments, some traditional Japanese and others modern. One listen to any song with this knowledge impresses upon you Tokumaru's vast talent.
Tokumaru's first full-length album Night Piece dropped in 2005 and was quickly followed by his sophomore effort L.S.T. later on in 2005. With his first effort Night Piece, Tokumaru burst onto the modern Tokyo music scene with an unusually different sound. The album was full of a new sound and tracks, which kept its audience captive. He avoided the sophomore slump with L.S.T., which equaled his first album in creativity and individuality. His third album Exit, which is currently only released in Japan, promises to take Tokumaru's music to the next level.
Tokumaru's is certainly beginning to command attention in the Tokyo music scene and internationally, as he has recently toured with Deerhoof and Tenniscoats and is in the process of starting a 2008 US summer tour. With his skill level and distinctive sound it's doubtful his music will fade from the scene anytime soon.