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The Architecture of Sound: A Synesthete’s Guide to Hollowgram

The entire world is composed of shapes, colors, words, and sounds – and, because of synesthesia, my perceptions of all those things are skewed.  That means that my entire world perception is different from the average person’s.  I don’t see things the way other people do.  And that can be lonely, not to mention frustrating.  There’s nothing worse than watching someone’s face as you hand them a shooting star, and realizing that they’re seeing a plain, uninteresting rock.

This makes it difficult to talk about things like my favorite bands.  I feel compelled to have these conversations, because when you find something you love, it’s natural to want to share it with the people around you.  But I find that most individuals appreciate music for very different reasons than I do.  My father, for example, is a trumpet player, a composer, and a high school music teacher.  He loves music.  And, to his credit, he is always willing to patiently listen to whatever I bring him.  But he often struggles to understand just what it is I like about it in the first place.  I know that he sees driveway gravel in my jars of fireflies, and I can’t even begin to explain how frustrating that is.

My main motivation for starting this blog was to try and help people see the music I love the way that I see it.  I have no painting or drawing skills at all; words are the only medium I can really use (and only poorly at that.)  But what some of these bands achieve is nothing short of magic, and it’s not fair to them – or to you – for that to pass by unremarked upon.  And so, I’m determined to try.  I sincerely appreciate those of you who are willing to come along for the ride.

This is the reason, though, that it takes me so long to turn these articles around after a concert.  Nothing I type ever seems adequate to what I’ve experienced, which is a whole different type of injustice to the bands.  I don’t have a very strong memory for set lists, and standard concert reviews are already abundant online.  I feel like it’s safe to leave those details to other people.  I want to share the concert experience the way I experienced it.  That’s what I feel I have to offer to the discussion.  

All of this being said, it is extraordinarily difficult for me to talk about Ryo and all of his many musical projects.  But since Hollowgram’s 4th Anniversary live, Drawing Pictures, at Hatsudai’s The Doors was my first concert of 2018, that is exactly what is on fare for tonight.

First of all, there’s just something about Ryo himself that’s difficult to put into words.  I admire his drive, not to mention his time management skills (I seriously question whether or not the man ever sleeps, or just what insane percentage of his diet is pure caffeine.)  Of course, I  admire him as a creator, in his artwork and his lyrics and his musical compositions.  He’s also one of the best live performers in this field that I’ve ever seen.  But that’s all entirely separate from this indefinable something that he has.

The first music I heard by him was Hollowgram’s Qualia album, back when it was being sold through Mix Speaker’s,Inc.’s website in 2014.  Seek was promoting the band quite a bit on Twitter at that time, and I was finally curious enough to have a look.  I really liked it, and the album became part of my regular music rotation.  But I never got around to looking up anything about the band.  My decision to attend their only 2017 live last September was mostly a whim; I really like that CD, and bands which manage to tweak my synesthesia through a recording usually have a much more pleasing and powerful effect upon it live.  But I still knew next to nothing about the band.  I distinctly remember skimming their (very sparse) Wikipedia page on the train while on my way to the venue.  

And the funny thing is that, though I sincerely enjoyed the concert – Hollowgram is an amazing band, and they sound incredible live – I had gotten trapped in an awkward place in the crowd, and couldn’t really see anything.  I enjoyed listening, but I only caught the briefest glimpses of Ryo himself, and so this thing about him that I’m trying to describe didn’t really hit me at the time.

But I did finally do some research when I got home.  First of all, I was genuinely startled by just how many projects Ryo is currently apart of.  Indie artist or no, his workload is completely staggering.  Intrigued, I started to listen to some more of them.  Dallë was instantly intriguing to me because of Közi’s participation in the group (Malice Mizer was my first ever foray into the world of Japanese rock), and when I found out that they were playing a gig the following month, I quickly bought a ticket.  And then also dragged a friend along with me for moral support, in case Ryo’s foray into industrial post-punk goth rock turned out to be a disappointment.

It did not.

We had so much fun that night, and got so close to the stage – close enough for me to finally see Ryo clearly, that’s for sure.  

And that was it.  I was hooked.  

The man is a walking ball of charisma.  I’m not really sure how else to put it.  By all accounts that I’ve read, he’s a soft-spoken individual with a ‘gentle’ personality – but there’s also this insane magnetism to him that makes it hard to look away.  He’s a really strange singer for me to fall for, too, because his voice is so different from what I naturally gravitate towards.  As my favorite vocalist, Keiyuu gets to be the standard by which all other singers are measured.  His voice is like liquid silk, and smooth as glass.  It’s cool, clear, and bright.  If we’re talking temperature, Ryo is on the complete opposite side of the tonal spectrum.  His voice is warm, cloying, and a sort of sepia-amber, compared to Kieyuu’s beautiful blue.  

They’re as different as night and day in a stylistic sense, too.  Ryo’s voice is much more adenoidal, and he sings high in his mouth, with a remarkably precise control which holds the sound tight against his upper palate.  To me, it sounds like someone walking on their tiptoes, albeit in a controlled and graceful way.  I tend to prefer vocals which sit much lower.   If any of you have ever ridden a horse, think of settling your weight in the saddle, well-balanced and comfortably within your center of gravity.  With most of the vocalists I follow, the sound generally sits level like that.  Ryo’s voice, however, is always directed upward, with the weight of it settling high and just a little forward.  (If we’re going with the horse analogy, Ryo is the equivalent of a rider standing in the stirrups and leaning over their mount’s neck mid-jump.)  

Which is not meant to imply that he’s straining in any way.  He sings with a very tangible and conscious understanding of breath support and intonation, and even when he’s flying upward into that insane falsetto range of his, his voice never thins out.  Even canted high and forward the way it is, it’s still a remarkably strong, full-bodied sound.  

Which should be par the course for singers in any genre, but it really isn’t.  Mix Speaker’s,Inc.’s vocalist, Miki, is a good example of this.  I adore Miki, but he has absolutely no sense of support or intonation when he sings.  He can’t project, and the second a song takes him out of his range, his voice completely evaporates.  And he’s by no means alone in this, which is another reason that Ryo’s control over his voice is so pleasingly remarkable.

But to get back to the synesthetic comparisons: if we’re talking in terms of seasonal connotations, Keiyuu’s voice is the crystal clarity of a starlit summer night (think the cool kiss of night-swept grass against bare feet), whereas Ryo is absolutely the antiqued amber of an autumn afternoon.  Think maple syrup.  Cinnamon and honey.  Russet-gold leaves, and that sweet, dry smell that comes with them as they rustle underfoot.  That absolutely perfect shade of sunlight at the Golden Hour of the afternoon.    

Okay.  Maybe he’s not such a weird vocalist for me to fall for, after all.  

But the thing about Hollowgram is that their music doesn’t contain itself within this sort of rigidly defined spectrum.  In fact, my very favorite Hollowgram songs are the ones in which Ryo’s voice is threaded like rays of setting sunlight through the cooler, darker tones of the instrumentals.  Have you ever dropped food coloring into water?  And then watched the heavier dye fall through the liquid before dissolving, twirling and stretching until total saturation is reached, and the color is changed?  That’s Hollowgram – minus the total saturation.  Put the image of the ink falling on an infinite loop, but with varying colors (blues and golds primarily, but really, you can choose your poison) and that’s what listening to Hollowgram is like for me.  

There’s so much motion in it, which is as much a part of the synesthetic experience as the colors are.  I’m not sure that the casual listener appreciates just how difficult some of this music is.  There are so many moments where I realize suddenly that they’ve changed time signatures, but that the transition happened so seamlessly that I can’t say for sure exactly when it occurred unless I go back and listen again.  Most popular music sticks pretty faithfully to 4/4 time, and as a result, you generally get the obvious downbeats and upticks and the same repetitive, back-and-forth motion.  Hollowgram’s music doesn’t do that.  Even better than the time signature changes are when the band suddenly shifts the stressed beat, as though they’ve shifted their weight from one foot to the other.  Nothing about the structure changes, really, but the entire feel of the song is suddenly shifted.  It’s simple, but it’s not easy to execute, and I can honestly say that it’s one of Hollowgram’s strengths – and one of the reasons I like listening to them more than most other bands.

In that regard, their music is like Sukekiyo’s  – you’re just never quite sure what direction it’s going to spin off into next.  And yet, it’s all executed with that same perfect, tight control that I mentioned before.  There’s no chaos here.  Only architecture.

Music like this not only requires an extraordinary attention to detail, which Hollowgram has in spades.  It also requires an innate understanding of the shape and flow of sound itself.  One of the reasons that I enjoy watching Ryo onstage so much is that he clearly feels the music in the same way that I see it.  He moves his entire body while he’s singing, and it’s about so much more than merely swaying to the rhythm.  He delineates the edges and the curves of the sound, striking bright notes in the air, cutting and parsing phrases with his expressive hands.  His whole body jerks to unexpected drum hits, and he bends and dips his way around guitar riffs and bass solos.  For someone who is already feeling all of that in the air around them, watching him do this is a very unique and unexpected source of pleasure.  Ryo is always perfectly synced up with what I’m seeing when I listen to the music.  

I’ve spent a lot of time so far talking about Ryo, because he’s the mastermind behind Hollowgram’s art – but credit where credit is due.  The band’s instrumentalists are legitimately extraordinary.  Honestly, the reason that I’m so certain of this is because I rarely ever notice them.  And that’s the highest compliment I can pay them.  They’re such sensitive, accomplished musicians, playing the beautifully crafted compositions which they have all helped put together, that they fit seamlessly together.  Their individual sounds blend perfectly into the track itself, until all you really notice is the music.

And they make it clear that the music is really what it’s all about.  Unlike most of the bands I actively follow, Hollowgram isn’t a visual kei group.  There are no stage props, no backdrops, and generally, they stick to wearing simple black.  They also don’t talk much while onstage, and one of the things I genuinely appreciate about them is their onstage pacing technique.  In truth, Hollowgram handles this particular problem better than any other band I follow.  First of all, they genuinely take a breather when they need one, at regularly spaced and premeditated intervals.  During this time, they don’t talk; they don’t perform; they don’t play to the audience at all.  And, better still, they precisely time these pauses out by using a BG music track with audio cues for them to follow.  In general, it’s just enough time for them to get a drink, wipe the sweat off of their faces, and re-adjust their instruments and clothing.  We can see what they’re doing, obviously, but the lights are down for these and the BG is meant to give the audience something to listen to in addition to timing out the break for the musicians. The tracks they choose aren’t from the band’s standard repertoire, but Ryo told me on Twitter that they are written by the musicians (for this live in particular, Kazuya took the helm.)  It’s all very professional.  I’d even go so far as to say ‘classy.’  Sometimes, the audience takes advantage of the pause to scream the name of their favorite musician for a few minutes, but there are other times when everyone stands quietly and just listens, and honestly, the latter seems to be keeping more with the overall mood and intent (even if the musicians themselves occasionally encourage all of the cat-calling.) They manage to find a way to catch their breath without interrupting the flow of the concert.

And really, that’s a good point all by itself: they never stop.  Their energy level is insane.  Ryo said on Twitter that they played their entire discography at this show – all twenty-six songs.  I’ve noticed this at Keel concerts, too, but when Ryo finally takes off his jacket (he always seems to be wearing a very good-looking jacket that makes him die of heat stroke), that’s a signal that things are about to kick up a notch.  

(When that man takes off his jacket, plays with his sleeves, and wraps the mic cord around his wrist, you know it’s Serious Business Time.)

And this is an insane concept, because what came before wasn’t exactly ‘low energy.’  The brilliance of Hollowgram as a live act is that everything is so full and rich and complex, that even the slower songs have their own powerful sense of momentum.  I’ve seen shows with setlists which were obviously utilizing the ballad section as either a warm-up (as is the case with D), or as a breather (Kra is kind of infamous for this.)  But Hollowgram’s setlists feel much more like a playlist that you might make for yourself on your computer.  The pacing elements are there, but they’re much less obvious, because it’s extremely well thought-out and organized.  The transitions are perfect, and again, the energy level is fairly consistent.  

That night, I watched Ryo shrug out of his jacket, and I honestly thought, Holy shit.  Really?!

There is so much more that I’d like to say about this band, but I’ll save it for now, since I’m lucky enough to have two additional Hollowgram concerts already on the calendar: March 31st’s live with Stereo.C.K, and Shinya’s birthday live on May 20th.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this:

With most other bands, my synesthesia registers as a physical sensation on the outside of my body, like silk over skin (as is famously the case with Keiyuu’s voice.)  But Hollowgram is very much an internal sensation.  Their music is a gentle pressure outward from within my ribcage; a contented sort of fullness, firm but soft, like an embrace.  I feel as though something warm and gently viscous is being slowly poured over my bones.  It’s a pleasant sensation.  It’s like how drinking hot cocoa makes you feel.  It’s always just the right temperature, and one which brings with it associations of comfort, security, and protection.  

It’s rare that something in this world can be as beautiful as it is soothing.
If you are unfamiliar with Hollogram, and want to check them out, you can find out more on their official website – hollowgram.net – or via their official Twitter feed, @HOLLOWGRAM_info  

Concert Review

Deeply Natural, and Unearthly Strange: Synesthesia and Sukekiyo

6.13.17
sukekiyo @ Tokyo International Forum Hall C
Live Tour: “Falling Moon”

Have you ever listened to a recording of wolves howling in the distance?  Wolf song is fascinating, because it is inherently contradictory.  It is undeniably beautiful, but it is also the quintessential cry of the predator in the untamed wild; it makes the hair on our arms stand on end, and reminds some small, primitive corner of our brains that we once were prey.  It is inherently lonely, but acts as a method of social communication between members of a united pack.  It is both deeply natural and unearthly strange, something our primal senses recognize and yet something which is alien and unusual to our minds.  For us, wolf song inhabits the grey area between relaxation CDs and slasher films  – meaning that it allows us to drop our guard while also making us naturally, instinctively afraid.

Now, try to imagine music which occupies that same grey sensory space.

That is precisely what listening to the Japanese rock band sukekiyo is like for me.  In regards to my synesthesia, sukekiyo is entirely abnormal; their blended instrumentals and unearthly, experimental vocals create an overwhelming sensory experience that is impossible to break down into mere color recognition or basic movement patterns, the way other music can be.  And, as I was thrilled to discover last month, their live performances are just as unique.

As with any concert in this genre, there were rules.  All of the audience members came dressed in black, as though they were attending a funeral, and everyone was expected to sit silently in their seat during the performance.  The band explained this on their website as an attempt to create a ‘classical music experience’ at a rock show, but really, the end result was eerie.  As with their counterparts elsewhere in the world, Japanese rock concerts tend to involve a certain amount of audience participation: dancing, calling out, singing along, and chanting.  Sitting at all, let alone sitting motionless, felt unnatural.  When the lights went down, this motionless sea of black-clad observers virtually disappeared.  This somehow intensified the overall voyeuristic aspect of the audience-performer relationship, and contributed to the overwhelming sense of disconnect which dominated the entire show.

In fact, the lack of tangible engagement between the audience and the musicians was the most striking thing about the concert.  The show was extremely meta, in that the conceit of the performance seemed to be that it wasn’t a performance at all.  The band acted as though they were unaware of the audience’s existence.  Most Japanese rock concerts begin with the musicians walking out onto the stage, giving the fans a chance to catcall for their favorite member.  Some groups even have choreographed furitsuke, or hand gestures, for the audience to use during this opening act.  But sukekiyo played their own intro music.  They were already onstage when the lights went down, essentially denying that customary period of call-and-response.  And there was nothing set up to replace it.  No MC breaks, no formal address; in fact, no one spoke to us at all.  There was barely even a pause between songs.   The vocalist, Kyo, sang with his back to us most of the time.  Even when he did face the auditorium, he often had his eyes closed, or else seemed to be focusing his attention on someone beside him who was not actually there.  He didn’t even interact with the other members of the band, all of whom barely glanced up from their instruments.  Ironically, it was one of the best performances I have ever seen.  Everything that Kyo did on stage, no matter how strange, felt natural, uninhibited, and entirely devoid of artifice.  As an audience, we expect a certain level of theatricality from these musicians, and are well aware that it is entirely for our benefit.  There’s no need to hide that fact; it’s part of the entertainment.  But because Kyo refused to acknowledge our presence in any way, nothing that he did appeared to be for our benefit at all.  I felt as though I was watching a closed circuit security broadcast of someone who had no idea that there were cameras in the room.

That sense of disconnect was unusual, and incredibly jarring.  But it also helped ensure that nothing got in the way of the music itself.  In fact, everything about the band’s presentation was apparently designed with that goal in mind.  The stage setup was minimal and bare, without any ornamentation or splash of color, save Kyo’s scarlet microphone cord.  There were images projected onto screens arranged behind the band, ranging from abstract designs to clips from the group’s music videos, and the stage lights were in full, strobing effect.  However, none of those elements felt at all connected to the music or to each other.  The lights didn’t appear to respond to any sort of musical cue.  There wasn’t any sort of narrative structure to the video clips, linear or otherwise.  All of these effects were happening simultaneously, but not necessarily in tandem with one another – with one notable exception.  They all combined to induce a trance-like state that was powerful and hypnotic, and which proved difficult to shake, even long after the concert had ended.  

All these layers of disconnect created a completely dissociative environment.  There was nothing to analyze.  There was barely anything to look at.  I was sitting in a comfortable chair in a warm, dark room, and as I felt my analytical powers backing away, my subconscious began taking over.  

Which means that I’m finally at the point in this article where I get to tell you about sukekiyo and my synesthesia.

First of all, let me be clear: sukekiyo affects my synesthesia in ways that no other musical group does.  It’s one of the reasons why I like the band.  Generally, it’s easy for me to break music down in terms of color.  Each instrument has one, along with all of its attendant sensations, and the overall impression of the music is created via an intricate layering of these colors and sensations.  But sukekiyo is different.  Rather than being a compilation of sensory experiences, their music is all one sensation.  The explanation for this may simply be based on genre.  I’m not good at assigning labels, but sukekiyo’s Wikipedia page categorizes the band as ‘Nu-gaze’.  I’m not very familiar with Shoegaze or any of its offshoots, but I understand that blended instrumentals are one characteristic of the genre.  And those blended instrumentals make it impossible to discuss sukekiyo in terms of color.

But even if genre is enough to account for the mechanics of this phenomenon, the sensation I feel when I listen to sukekiyo is entirely unique to the band itself.  I said before that their music is all one sensation, but that might have been misleading.  Better to say, perhaps, that their music paints one coherent picture made up of a myriad of sensations.  I’ve explained sukekiyo to friends in the past as the auditory equivalent of walking through an abandoned house in the middle of the woods during the height of Autumn.  It’s all there: the damp, sweet smell of decaying leaves; the cool, clear air; the mist rising off of a nearby lake and tangling with the half-naked trees.  It’s everything beautiful and distinct and melancholy about the season, coupled with the breathless trespass of wandering the faded halls of an abandoned house.  When I listen to sukekiyo, I can feel the rickety floorboards bowing beneath my feet, and see the dust motes drifting in the weak beams of light filtering in from behind the moth-eaten curtains.  It’s beautiful and a little frightening, like the way that the slow reclamation of nature can transform familiar household items into foreign and alien things.

Which brings me back to the comparison I made earlier to wolf song at twilight.  It’s the strange ache which comes with longing for something that makes you afraid.

Listening to sukekiyo is always like this for me.  But hearing them perform live was a very different experience.  I most often listen to music when I’m en route to somewhere, or when I’m in the process of doing something else.  It’s rare that I actually sit down with my eyes closed and focus exclusively on the sound.  As such, when I say ‘sensory experience’ in regards to music and my synesthesia, sight isn’t part of that equation.  I feel and smell things, and that inner third eye – the one I discussed in my first blog post – tracks any movement.  But I’m still seeing my actual surroundings.  However, that trance-like state induced during the live disconnected me from my physical environment.  And when it was no longer necessary to observe the physical world around me, my synesthesia engaged my sense of sight in a way that it never has before.  It was a little like lucid dreaming, in that I felt as though I had been transported to an entirely different place.  I don’t know whether the internal became the external, or if something brand new was internalized.  All I know for sure is that I felt like Kyo, with his voice like curled tendrils of silvery condensation, had gotten inside my head somehow and rearranged all of the furniture.

Kyo’s voice is unique, and not only from the perspective of a synesthete.  Where other rock singers might shriek or growl, Kyo is capable of producing sounds that are chillingly inhuman.  And even when he does sing, he has a voice like mist.  It’s ethereal and pervasive, colorless but distinct.  It smells like cold.  It makes me feel the way I do in the moments just before falling asleep with my cheek pressed against a car window at night, only vaguely aware of the damp chill burning against my skin or of the glitter of approaching headlights caught in the fringe of my eyelashes.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  And in the trance-like state induced by the performance, Kyo’s voice was like the fading stain of breath upon a dusty mirror inside that beautiful, terrifying house.

As the concert rounded on its final song, the lights along the apron of the stage came on and an opaque screen fell between the auditorium and the band.  Their blurred and distorted shadows were thrown up against the back wall in a way that made them seem like ghosts, appropriately tinged the washed-out autumnal yellow of a fading sun.  And really, that’s the way the entire performance made me feel: haunted.

Everyone clapped politely once the show came to an end, and then they gathered up their belongings and left, the way they would have done at the end of a movie.  The band played themselves out, without pausing to address the audience or to take their bows.  No one called out for an encore.  In fact, no one said anything at all.  Even though it was obvious that many of the fans knew one another and had come together, everyone was completely silent as they exited the hall.  It was eerie.  As we filed by the hundreds down six flights of metal stairs, not one voice interrupted the muted thunder of our footsteps.  I think we were all still caught up in that trance.  Our bodies were doing what they needed to do, setting about the task of taking us home, but our minds were still wandering the footpaths in that deep, unsettling forest.  I felt drugged.  I missed my train stop twice trying to get back, because I couldn’t seem to focus on my surroundings.  The sensations brought about by the music had been too real.  I was looking for the moon in the ceilings of subway cars, and listening for the wolves in the metallic clatter filling every darkened metro tunnel.  Thinking back on that trip home now is like trying to recall a dream.

My first time hearing sukekiyo live was an intensely internal experience, rather than an external one, and that alone sets it apart from every other show that I’ve ever attended.  I don’t know if this was a typical experience for their concerts.  But I hope very much that I have a chance someday to find out.

In the meantime, I have plenty more to say about sukekiyo and synesthesia that I couldn’t fit into this post.  If you’re at all curious, please keep an eye out for my review of their new album, Adoratio, coming soon.  

 

I’m in no way affiliated with any of the bands discussed here, but I’m always keen to spread awareness about the groups and projects that I love.  If I’ve managed to prick your interest, you can learn more about sukekkiyo here: Twitter | YouTube | Official Home Page

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My Harmonic Distortion.

What is Synesthesia?

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you already have a vague understanding of what synesthesia is.  Perhaps you know someone who has it; an estimated 4% of the world’s population experiences synesthesia in some form or another.  Perhaps you’ve seen some of the posts circulating around Facebook about the amazing artwork individual synesthetes have produced as a result of their condition.  But for those of you encountering the phenomenon for the first time here, I think it might be helpful to start with a basic introduction.  Synesthesia is a perceptual condition of mixed sensations, in which the stimulation of one sense causes the involuntary stimulation of another.  This phenomenon can take many forms.  Some synesthetes, for example, can taste sound, hear color, or even smell numbers.

I am a synesthete, and my synesthesia influences many different aspects of my life.  What I will be focusing on here, however, is the complex sensory layering I experience every time I hear music.

Synesthesia and Music

The first thing to understand is that the experiences of every individual synesthete vary.  In that regard, we’re the very specialist of snowflakes; what I experience may be, and probably is, different from what another synesthete experiences under the exact same conditions.

The second thing to understand is that my sensory response to hearing music is layered.  For simplicity’s sake, I have explained it to others in the past as “seeing colors when I hear music.”  And that statement is technically true.  However, my synesthesia also affects my perception of color.  More complicated still, the way in which I perceive color is itself layered, and sometimes difficult to explain.  It may include components such as taste and smell, but each color also carries its own physical sensation.

(I once tried to describe a particular shade of twilight blue by explaining that it felt like lying on your back in the center of a large bed, watching the light thrown from a candle stretch across the ceiling in the middle of the night.  My friend was understandably confused.)

Thirdly, my sensory reactions to music are based more heavily on tonal quality than they are on pitch.  I experience the sound of violins; I don’t ‘feel’ F#.  Two instruments playing the exact same note do not look or feel the same to me.  Pitch can alter my visualizations within an instrument group, making colors more or less saturated, for example – but guitars are always ‘orange’.

Fourthly, I use color adjectives in a more liberal way than you’re probably used to.  When I say something is ‘purple’, I mean that it’s everything that goes along with ‘purple’ for me.  Which – as I mentioned before – is usually a pretty complex sensory experience.

Finally, I want to take a moment to clarify what I mean in this context when I say that I “see” color.  It’s not like wearing tinted glasses.  Rather, have you ever been telling a story to a group of friends based on a memory, and while you’re looking at your audience, you’re also seeing that memory play out in your mind?  That’s what it’s like.  Nothing’s visually overlapping anything else.  It’s more like watching two images projected simultaneously on two different screens.

Except that one of those screens is inside your mind, and not really in front of your eyes at all.

Harmonic Distortion

There is obviously no shortage of music and concert review blogs on the internet.  So why add my hat to the ring?

Music is one of my greatest passions in life, and I feel like my particular situation gives me a unique perspective on the topic, both as someone with synesthesia and as a Western expat attending concerts in Japan.  The majority of the lives I attend are for Japanese rock bands, but that doesn’t mean that ‘Jrock’ is the only thing I want to talk about here.  Harmonic Distortion is aimed at anyone who is interested in the discussion of art.  Through the vehicle of my experiences and perceptions, I want to share the extraordinary power and beauty that music has for me.  I want to find a way to explain the inexplicable.  Words are music, and music is a dialogue, and my ambition is to bring it all full circle.

I am also hoping that my writings will help provoke discussions about music, art, synesthesia, and expat culture.  If you have something to say, please feel free to comment.  If you read something here that you find informative and interesting, I implore you to share the link around to your friends and to your social media followers.  It just stands to reason that the things I love are beloved to others.  And who doesn’t enjoy talking about the things they love?

Music’s the universal language, after all.  Let’s start a conversation.

 

xx

Featured image taken from Wallpaper Safari.