Floating Room: Shima

Floating Room is the musical project of Uchinanchu-American Maya Stoner whose Tired and True EP was reviewed here last year. Now she and her band are back with a new recording, the four track EP Shima.

Stoner is from Portland via the Ryukyus and although Floating Room’s sound is not at all ‘Okinawan’ on first listening (and is more punk than roots) she has an empathy with and understanding of her own ancestry that soon reveals itself in the songs she writes. This time she signposts her background by titling this short set Shima.

The bright opening track ‘See You Around’ is driven by some jangly electric guitar alongside Stoner’s voice. This is followed by ‘I Wrote This Song for You’. It’s a song that is hard to place in time: it might seem at first a throwback to the 1960s with a few twists and turns reminiscent of Love’s Forever Changes. But it’s also bang up to date and with a raw edge that ends in feedback and a screamed vocal.

‘Firetruck’ is a gloriously catchy slice of pure pop and then the EP ends with its most crucial song ‘Shimanchu’ (Island People) in which Stoner directly addresses her connections to the Ryukyus and the ambivalence and angst that accompany it, as she sings: “Don’t call my island paradise / I’m an islander / Your silence disturbs me”. She manages to pull off the remarkable feat of displaying all her strength as well as her vulnerability in one song.

The band describe the song ‘Shimanchu’ as a paean to Stoner’s Uchinanchu heritage and a retort to the condescension she faces daily as an Asian American woman. The lines repeated throughout are: “I’m an islander but I’m away from my island, so I am the only island here.” Of course, she ends up screaming again.

This is another fine outing from Floating Room who go upwards on a path quite unlike anyone else’s. The tracks were recorded in a single day in Oregon and were produced by Mo Troper who also played guitar, bass, and drums. Maya Stoner and her band are currently at the start of an extensive tour of North America that goes on until just before Christmas. If only they would come to Okinawa in the future.

Shima is out now on digital and vinyl and is released by Famous Class Records.



Explore posts in the same categories: Roots Music from Out There

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