This might not be the most proper way to start off FOND/SOUND’s blogging new year, but I’m hoping for a blessing in disguise. Let’s get this right out the way: I have little info to provide on the following Japanese band, Pale Cocoon. Released on cassette, in 1984, 繭, which translates to “cocoon”, has all those perfect wintery things we love to hear this time of the year: cool, murky music. In this case, this hazy music has much more in common with the modern psychedelia of Jason Pierce’s Spacemen 3, Woo, or My Bloody Valentine, if it didn’t actually precede them chronologically in history (and in many cases beat them at their own game) – at least that’s what our western-looking musical history would like us to believe. However, that’s what you hear in 繭: the work of a musical duo that ignores what was expected of them and does things without nods to much anything else.
If there are cues, it’s from Doug Yule-era Velvet Underground, early Durutti Column, the more ambient side of Throbbing Gristle, and gobs of other, unknown influences, that Pale Cocoon were attempting to roll in to create a new kind of Japanese atmospheric music. Matching drum machines, tape loops, and hazy synths with jazz-inflected bass lines or heavily-affected/treated guitar sounds, Pale Cocoon sounded unlike anything out there.
It’s still a wonder, to me at least, that they managed to convince a small Japanese indie label like Pafe Records to release their debut on cassette with a 33-page booklet, before disbanding, and escaping the reach of our modern search engine-based history.
Take a listen to songs from the album like “Mizutamari”, then another one like “Kumoatsume”. If we didn’t hear lead vocalist Ryu singing in both, would one ever assume that they’re listening to the same band? Simply brilliant. It’s this slightly peaceful, innocent, very noisy and personal thing, that remains a wonderfully large, unknown slice of wiggy music that had very few peers then and has even less now. Hopefully, in this new year, something, or someone could turn up and enlighten us all with a bit more a bit more info about this band. But then again, there are few, true mysteries left in the world…