The Visual Kei Music Thread

Tuxedo Kaz

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I decided to do this thread because of the 'boy or girl' video thread a few days ago, and to show some new music styles around here.

Visual Kei is a type of music genre (but it's many actual different styles of music, from hard rock, metal, glam rock, punk and even elements of jazz and fusion) that has existed in Japan for almost 30 years starting in the 1980s. These early bands like X, Derelenger and others were inspired by Western rock like KISS and 60s/70s psychadelic rock. It is a style that uses highly elaborate outfits and costumes, stage makeup, visual stylings and themes to add to the appeal and art of the music. Representations of album themes, song material, and mood all go into the visual styling, the appreciation for art and beauty, and the power these visual elements have to shock, illuminate, and illustrate new points of views.

Here are some important bands in the Visual Kei movement and their music:

X (X Japan) - Formed in the 1980s and arguably one of Asia's most influential and popular rock and roll bands. The 'fathers' of Visual Kei. After the death of hide (co-lead guitar), the band was unable to reunite until recently with help from musicians of other old VK bands. Recently, X contributed their new single, I.V. to the SAW IV motion picture soundtrack, their first original work since the death of musical hero hide. X is set to again tour the world. X's music has left a huge impact on asian rock and roll, and still play an important role as producers and tastemakers in the Japanese rock music industry.

X Japan - "Week End"
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKYJpr34ZW8]YouTube - X JAPAN - Week End[/ame]

X Japan - "Silent Jealousy"
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzHbHxSEtVQ]YouTube - X Japan- Silent Jealousy PV[/ame]

X Japan - "Kurenai" (Last Live 1997)
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgDdpATtGlM]YouTube - X Japan - Kurenai[/ame]

X Jaoan - "Joker"
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpE3ptikix4]YouTube - X Japan - Joker[/ame]

X Japan - "Endless Rain"
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Beujgb0OBeY]YouTube - Endless Rain X JAPAN[/ame]

X Japan - I.V (For the SAW IV soundtrack)
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeyoxuhX-dQ]YouTube - X-Japan - I.V[/ame]

Luna Sea - Another very influential band, Luna Sea was scouted by hide (from X) and signed to X's label by drummer/band leader Yoshiki. Sugizo (Guitar) is currently part of X Japan's live lineup for their reunion. Luna Sea has been around since around 1989-1990 and has produced many top selling albums. They eventually abandoned most of their visual kei stylings (like many) upon gaining widespread success. Sugizo is well known amongst many guitarists for his amazing custom guitars through the ESP Guitar COmpany Ltd.

Luna Sea - Believe
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Rto0aJordw]YouTube - Believe - Luna Sea[/ame]

Luna Sea - Time is Dead (Live, 1990)
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcrI4xi5NDQ]YouTube - LUNA SEA - TIME IS DEAD[/ame]

Luna Sea - Image
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eUHt1waEjg]YouTube - LUNASEA IMAGE[/ame]

Luna Sea - Storm
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWdHsm3QmEA]YouTube - STORM (LUNA SEA)[/ame]

Luna Sea - Rosier
http://www.D;youtube.com/watch?v=M6QpDsXeE_I

D'erlanger - Another early VK band, D'erlanger was active mostly during the mid 80s and early 90s. They have recently reformed. Nonetheless, they were one of the important players at the key moments of Visual Kei's ascendancy and infancy.

D'erlanger - Lullaby
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwVODNKi1vM]YouTube - D'ERLANGER LULLABY-1990-(PV)[/ame]

D'erlanger - XXX For You
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8x4HIA94M8]YouTube - [PV] D'ERLANGER - XXX for YOU[/ame]

Malice Mizer - Perhaps one of the most influential of the modern (1990s) visual kei bands, Malice Mizer was formed by guitarist Mana, who continues to be an important feature in the music scene. Malice Mizer started their careers as French romantic themed rockers until they developed a distinct blend of Gothic Rock and melodic baroque opreratic metal. Their history is storied and their outfits are some of the most elaborate to grace the stages of VK music. They have also been a launching platform for many talents, including VK vocalist and single artist Gackt (whom I have met once before, actually). They are perhaps one of Visual Kei's most eccentric bands, as Mana does not speak directly with fans or the media at all. After the disbanding of Malice MIzer, Mana formed Moi dix Moix, a similarly themed group. MM has had three vocalists; Tetsu, Gackt, and Khala. Each of these vocalists sang for the band in three distinct musical eras in which both the music and visuals were very different. One of the key aspects of early MM is their extensive use of dual guitar harmonies.

Their different styles and eras are far too large to completely document here.

Malice Mizer - Gensou Rakuen
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgzSJ7FX1o0]YouTube - Malice Mizer ~ Gensou Rakuen ~ Live[/ame]

Malice Mizer - Bel Air
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JakCKf02JPs]YouTube - Malice Mizer - Bel Air PV[/ame]

Malice Mizer - Shiroi
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y26HZrGR7O8]YouTube - Malice Mizer - Shiroi[/ame]

Malice Mizer - Beast of Blood
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F143kJea2tw]YouTube - Beast Of Blood[/ame]

Buck Tick - One of Japan's most popular visual and rock acts throughout their long career, they are one of the few bands that have survived since the early 1980s. Formed in '84, they had a very tough climb to the the top. Influenced by the punk movement (the Starlin, Sex Pistols etc), they eventually found strong mainstream success. Some of their music is known here in the United States because of the anime Trinity Blood. Their music is varied, from upbeat, to sensual and dark. As with many bands influenced by the punk scene, they decided to form a band before knowing how to play their instruments. Once they learned, they rapidly sought to play live gigs and tour. To this day they remain extremely popular (especially their vocalist, Atsushi).

Buck Tick - Kagerou
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M83qG1zWWk]YouTube - Kagerou PV[/ame]

Buck Tick - Die
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wde81IMIBDA]YouTube - Buck Tick - Die PV[/ame]

Buck Tick - M.A.D.
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouHM6893fw0]YouTube - Buck-Tick - M.A.D PV[/ame]

Buck Tick - Dress (This video always weirded me out but the song is very good. This song was used for the opening of the popular vampire anime Trinity Blood)

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_B0mgwZ4Xo]YouTube - Dress -BUCK-TICK[/ame]

Buck Tick - Heroin
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diMDzrJUVTI]YouTube - Heroin - Buck-Tick[/ame]

Dir en grey - Formed in 1997, Dir en grey is one of the last 'classical' Visual Kei acts, coming in towards the height of the Visuak Kei movement's complexity and flair. They are also probably the most well known Japanese rock band outside of Asia, having done tours across America with the Family Values tour, the Deftones, and their own headlining tours. Theu have also played the open air shows Download Festival, Rock am Ring, and Wacken Open Air. One of the heaviest acts out of Japan, their style was prog-pop at first, but each album brings with it a new style and look. They are one of Japan's most commercially successful rock and roll acts and have been for many, a gateway into the VK scene's older music that inspired them. Once again, Dir en grey is a band that was largely promoted by X drummer Yoshiki (They signed to his label) but grew into their own. They put on incredible live shows in which the audiences are capitvated by Kyo, the madman vocalist of this group as he often engages in acts of self-mutilation and injury on stage. Like many Visual acts, Dir en grey has guitars and basses provided by the ESP Guitar Company. Their current album, Uroboros, is available worldwide.

A large element of their music is social critique and satire, using obscure double entendres that use the Japanese language's use of kanji (chinese characters) to their advantage in songwriting. As such it can be very hard to translate their music accurately into English, though they do have official translations as well as some songs in English.

(Incidentally, I met my fiancee at a Dir en grey live show).

This is one of the bands with the most interesting videos and such so I have quite a few more to show here.

Dir en grey - Cage
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1jaOxGICRA]YouTube - Dir en grey - Cage[/ame]

Dir en grey - Raison d'etre
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppezWAhFPQc]YouTube - Dir en grey - Raison d'être (PV)[/ame]

Dir en grey - Yokan
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO40xljZ1BI]YouTube - Dir en grey - Yokan[/ame]

Dir en grey - Macabre
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR56zMXP36A]YouTube - Dir en grey - MACABRE (LIVE)[/ame]

Dir en grey - Myaku
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLIqk6nPu5A]YouTube - Dir en grey - Myaku[/ame]

Dir en grey - Mr. Newsman (live)
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajZ051pMA9k]YouTube - [subbed] Dir en grey - Mr.NEWSMAN[/ame]

Dir en grey - Obscure
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxP4R6F-etQ]YouTube - Dir en Grey - Obscure(Full, Uncensored)-Visual Kei / J-rock[/ame]

Dir en grey - Red...[em]
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jO8Ugr6IhM]YouTube - Dir en grey - Red...[em] [LIVE][/ame]

Dir en grey - The IIID Empire (Rock am Ring 2006)
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mRfTJ6mu5g]YouTube - The 3D Empire Dir en Grey Rock am Ring 2006[/ame]

Dir en grey - Drain Away
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMHap29eyiw]YouTube - Dir en Grey: Drain Away[/ame]

Dir en grey - Kodou (This is actually part 2 of a related song, search for Saku for the other part of the story)
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0Q6ZVQGs58]YouTube - Dir en grey - kodou[/ame]

Dir en grey - The Final
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V71xhU6Wv4M]YouTube - The Final - Dir en grey [English Subtitles][/ame]

Dir en grey - Ryoujoko no Ame
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KS2dJpy7Tg]YouTube - Dir en grey - Ryoujoku no ame[/ame]


That's it for Part I.
 

SpinWheelz

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This explains almost every anthemic sequence in my Final Fantary video games. Thanks for this.
 

geochem1st

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Wow... you are really into this. Thats great.

and to think I left off with Alice Cooper.
 

Tuxedo Kaz

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Wow... you are really into this. Thats great.

and to think I left off with Alice Cooper.

I love Alice. Billion Dollar Babies is one of my favorite albums. :)

Most of the bands I have been a part of were small time VK acts, it's in the blood.
 

Jason

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Interesting stuff.. It will take me awhile to get through it all!

I think, whether a person accepts it or not, what you wear as a performer is a huge part of the message you're conveying. Your particular style, in my opinion, provides the visual context for the music.

You can have the attitude of a music snob and say you don't want to "take away" from the music with your clothes. Let's get real though, how many popular bands just wear the same bland clothing as everyone else? Take advantage of the fact that people have eyes as well as ears! Use your clothing and other visual aids to add meaning and context to your performance. Or, you can be one of the many bands I've seen in bars that I can't tell apart. I'm not even talking about extreme costumes necessarily, just put in some thought.

What are your guys' thoughts?
 

Paul_Cat

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That XJapan drummer is amazing! You know what's weird?.. I met my awesome girlfriend in the lineup at a Dir en Grey concert!!
 

Tuxedo Kaz

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That XJapan drummer is amazing! You know what's weird?.. I met my awesome girlfriend in the lineup at a Dir en Grey concert!!

That's how I met mine. At the coat check line for the Boston show of the Inward Scream tour in Feb 2007. They were great! Their last tour (Rose Trims Again) wasn't that hot.

Yeah, Yoshiki is amazing. He's so badass, drumming with a fucking neck brace (after he snapped his neck drumming).
 

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