And so on the 11th of January 2012, Tokyo Jihen announced that they will spit up.
It’s hard to say how I feel about this. It is the band fronted by Shiina Ringo after all and she is, in my opinion, one of the greatest singer/songwriters around today. The whole band is extremely talented at what they do but it feels like the group has become less than the sum of its parts.
From their release of Variety, the band’s third album, Ringo loosened her grip on the song writing duties and allowed the other members to have a crack at it. The result was three largely unfocused albums with a few excellent songs (on necessarily the ones written by Ringo) and some songs elevated to greatness when performed live. Perhaps she chose to do this because two of the original members left after their first album, not content to be in Ringo’s shadow.
Ultimately it was Ringo’s decision to end it and I hope that this means that she has something fantastic planned for us. The track she wrote for an upcoming film is wonderful and though it is an instrumental, it has shades of the old, badass Shiina Ringo about it. Looking at it the other way though, she may take this as an opportunity to retire, only to dabble in producing and writing for others. She has been doing this for some time now and so far it has been with people with an nth of her talent.
For the other members though, it frees them up to concentrate on their own bands. Of these other members however, it has only ever been HZM, one of the aforementioned early splitters, that I have ever had any in real interest in. His band, Pe’z, are simply a wonderful Jazz band. Kameda is simply a music producer at heart, although he will probably continue to play the bass for Ringo, as he has always done. Ukigumo is perhaps the only other member I’ll keep an eye on. Songs like Meisai, OSCA and sa_i_ta show that he is a great writer but the lad just can’t sing, which puts me off a bit.
Anyhow, for good or for bad this is the end of Tokyo Jihen all we have left to look forward to from them is a farewell tour and a couple of live releases. RIP Tokyo Jihen but long live Shiina Ringo (and the others I guess).