Okinawa Electric Girl Saya: Doomsday

The musician known as Okinawa Electric Girl Saya first came to my attention a year or so ago when a friend alerted me to a video of her doing all kinds of electronic things involving Okinawan music. This new album is in fact the fourth release by Saya who is still just 21 years old, and its complete title is Doomsday ~ Shumatsu ~.  

The new album has 17 tracks and a total playing time of 72 minutes so there is plenty here to digest. It spans all kinds of styles and so the major focus is not only on Okinawan music. There are forays into electro-pop, noise, ambient and techno, and, as Saya says herself, she also found inspiration in sounds from all over the world – or in what used to be called ‘world music’.

With so many things going on over such a long running time there is always the danger that it sets its sights too high or is too wide-ranging to satisfy as a complete listening experience. However, while not every track will suit everyone, it’s also true to say there will surely be at least something here to make everyone happy.

In fact, Doomsday works surprisingly well as an album, consistently finding new sounds and directions to maintain interest and excitement. The production is clear and confident throughout and it bears repeated listening to stand up well as a new addition, not just to sounds from Okinawa but to music from much further afield.

The short opening track ‘Hito nu Du’ features unaccompanied voices (Saya is a singer as well as a musician) and her songs comprise more than half the album. Most of these songs and arrangements are by Saya who also produces – and designed the jacket. As for lyrics, both the title track and the song ‘Dancing in the distance’ are in English, three others have Uchinaguchi vocals, and the rest is sung in Japanese.

It’s no surprise that the most arresting for this listener are the three compositions drawing on Okinawan traditions. This trio of songs begins with ‘Arawarin 2022’. This is followed by the exuberant ‘Acchamee!’ (see video below). It might sound like a relative of Rinken Band, but she gives it her own twist with a rhythm track by Ryukyudisko’s Tetsushi Hiroyama. The mood carries on with the electro-driven emotionally charged ‘Ashibana’ which is perhaps the best thing on the album.

Doomsday has some guests helping on various tracks. One of these is Esme Mori who co-arranges the sublime dreamy pop of ‘Kasumisou’ written by Tabito Nanao. Elsewhere ‘Kamen’ offers a dash of noise, ‘Hotaru’ is a mood piece with soft background voices and spoken word; ‘Kareta Shima’ has menacing percussion and a wordless vocal.

Saya is based in Tokyo now but originally from Koza, Okinawa, and has been involved with music and dance since the age of twelve. She says the album was inspired by nature and an environmental awareness as well as being a reflection on her feelings from the pandemic. It has been called avant-garde but is at the same time very accessible.

Doomsday is released by infogarage and is out now. There will be a live performance by Okinawa Electric Girl Saya in Okinawa during April.

Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

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