What has 10 years of PLASTICZOOMS brought us?

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The discovery of PLASTICZOOMS did not happen for me up until 2013, but this band has built up a proper state of the art in their ten-year existence. It all started with a 7 inch single and currently we are already enjoying the fourth album that is self-titled.

For those who need to discover or get to know PLASTICZOOMS, it may be hard to get through all those releases and decide where to start. But PLASTICZOOMS’s repertoire is actually not difficult at all. If you started with the single Veiled Eyes, which came out last year and featured Berlin vibes because the band lived there for a year, it might be a bit of fun to you look at the first album CHARM. But thanks to the amount of music videos released in the past, you’ll soon discover what genres the band inspired for the music: 70’s punk, 80’s post-punk, gothic and new-wave. To honor the great inspiration, PLASTICZOOMS has already released covers, remembering Maniac from Michael Sembello and Spandau Ballet’s TO CUT A LONG STORY SHORT .

During live shows, the band knows from various releases to pick out some songs to bring to the audience. That’s why it’s hard to tell what album you really should have and what’s the best PLASTICZOOMS, because the band has over the years been able to renew and still maintain the same base. With each release the band knows how to process new inspiration in all tracks whether this is contemporary or straight from the 80’s.

On CHARM (2009) there are some personal favorites, but UNDER /// BLACK clearly carries out gothic and post punk; the music video makes it dark mysterious with horror elements. Sho’s voice can sometimes be quite monotonous in some other tracks, but UNDER /// BLACK (which first came out as 7 inch single) is the example of Sho’s capability. The song is loud, catchy and stops too soon.

The line-up of CHARM is completely different from the current lineup which includes singer Sho Asakawa, guitarist Tom Takanashi and bassist Jun Yokoe. In 2009, Sho was enhanced by keyboardist and singer Tif, guitarists Shu and Junk, bassist, keyboardist Nah and drummer Hideki.

The single B U G (2010) is perhaps the most similar to tracks like Veiled Eyes (2016). What all these years stands out is the mystery that the band wants to keep up. Everything is dark; From videos to the band’s clothes and the singer’s hair falling in front of the eyes, making you even more curious.

STARBOW (2012) only came out three years after the first album, but in between the band brings out just enough singles to keep us busy. K M K Z – which stands for kamikaze – has a fast pace, and is unlike the title and content of the lyrics, cheerfully tinted. Originally this track was offered for free download, but later it was put on the album STARBOW. That cheerful atmosphere is by no means visible in the video, everything remains dark and mysterious. We can now see it as a kind of trademark. At the time STARBOW came out, the band consisted of Sho Asakawa (vocal), Jun Yokoe (bass), Taiyo Ikeda (guitar), Shinpei Morishige (keyboard) and Yuta Kurata (drums).

SAVAGE is another track on the same album and goes hand in hand with music and lyrics: heavily loaded, melancholic and short-lived. But it’s a solid track that tastes like more.

For the third album, the band brings out various singles, such as RUBBERS BYE.BYE. And RAVEN which can be found later on CRITICAL FACTOR.

CRITICAL FACTOR was released in 2013. At that time, the band still consisted of 5 men: in addition to the now-known trio, keyboardist and guitarist Shinpei Morishige and guitarist Taiyo Ikeda belonged with PLASTICZOOMS. This is also the (last) last album that was released with a cardboard casing, which gave an extra luxurious idea to the album and was also seen as a cover for release.

The music video of P A R A D E gives the idea that it is not fun to go to a parade, there is no joy at all of the band members. But the lyrics are romantic tinted. CRACK tends to a song about a broken heart, while the music is revolving and Sho’s monotome voice at some times grows to shouting outlets that can cause goosebumps.

If you look at the various lineups that changed until 2013, you’ll soon see that the mastermind behind PLASTICZOOMS is the singer Sho Asakawa. That’s not surprising, because he’s the one behind the music compositions, design and artwork. In March of 2014, PLASTICZOOMS became known to be the same as Sho Asakawa. Because of this it also became known that the project continued with the current line-up: Sho Asakawa, Jun Yokoe and Tom Takanashi.

SECRET POSTCARD (2014) probably put all fans on the wrong leg. The mini album gave me the very feeling of spring and happiness, especially with ICE POPS. But that was not the case with all the tracks. THE MORNING SUN is a nice calm ballad, while the band with ILLUMINATION managed to capture the 80’s vibe and it also sang in other tracks of that mini album. Nevertheless, with this mini-album, a certain poppy sound can be heard.

In 2015, the band came with a ‘TWO GATES’ box; this box consisted of a disc with two tracks, including M A S K E D, the other track TIME IN THE CELLAR and a t-shirt. From M A S K E D therefore was released a music video for those who did not have the luck to buy this special box. M A S K E D shows that the band takes a step back to Critical Factor, as if the poppy sound has deviated slightly from the well-known sound that PLASTICZOOMS has.

The band came to Berlin in 2015 to live there for a while, but also to get inspired. This inspiration was very well heard in Veiled Eyes, which was later found on the EP that came to 2016. It was actually a prelude to what the band was planning on with a next release, which would be completely different from one of the first releases. With this release, the band first went through Europe with HIGHFeeL.

The self-titled album PLASTICZOOMS (2017) tells even more what impressions Berlin left behind on the band, but also to what extent the band has grown in recent years after SECRET POSTCARD. The band has gone more towards synth pop on the album, while the sound and trademark that PLASTICZOOMS has produced in recent years has not been released yet. And that’s good to hear in HIGHWAY. This music video also shows that music and fashion belong together according to PLASTICZOOMS. The band finds the album itself a masterpiece and based on their club music experience in Berlin.

The question is, of course, what the band will do in the future, but for now the band has already made a quite interesting discography with various tracks in various genres. This resulting the band to be difficult to differentiate. It might also be due to the DIY mentality that singer Sho Asakawa has, so that all kinds of elements are stuck together in the right way. In addition, the band remains consistent and authentic with the release of their music as you watch the CDs, up to the merchandise and in the music videos. PLASTICZOOMS has also made tracks with English lyrics from the beginning, due to the western musical influence on the singer Sho Asakawa. These influences are clearly intertwined with the music and fashion of PLASTICZOOMS. Over the past 10 years, the band has proved to be a very intriguing band with the various lineups and releases, but definitely as a live act.

In my opinion, PLASTICZOOMS is a special band that stays in balance with the various genres they work with; this makes sure that the audiences currently active with these genres actually walk away with this band after the discovery.

The band is currently on a European tour and will perform in Amstelveen on March 9th, this show is organized jointly by AVO, but also on Made in Asia in Brussels and Liège with the German Modern Metal Band SCARGOT.

Francisca Hagen

Started with AVO in 2003. Now active as writer, reporter, reviewer, promotor, photographer and tries to rule the world with a forum. Can be found regurarly at conventions and concerts in the Netherlands and sometimes Belgium. Big passion for Japan and music. You can follow me on Twitter: @Seraphinne

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