Yoh-Chu-Sha (Larva House)

Compiled by Jordan Scott
E-mail: jordan (at) jadering.tk | Web-site: Jade Ring

Last updated 26.12.06
(*) means JS doesn't own this album and has never been able to check it out
(@) means JS doesn't own this album but has listened to it
(usually though free downloads which were offered by the band)

Jordan Scott writes:

幼虫社 is pronounced 'Yoh-Chu-Sha' (or more commonly as 'Yôchû Sha') and translated as 'Larva House' (that's 'Larva' as in young insects and 'House' as in a family or clan). They're a Kyôto-based duo known individually as Tsukue (机) and Dgidgi (ヂヂ) - Dgidgi sings and everything else is shared between them. To describe their music, I'd say that they are unlike many Japanese synth bands in that firstly they are more Japanese. All but one of their songs are in their native language, and the earlier music in particular tends to have a stereotypically oriental feel, though not quite so much that I would classify it as 'world beat' or 'new age'. Secondly, they are also more synthesised - as far as I can tell, there are no acoustic instruments and even the electric guitar has only appeared (briefly) on a couple of their songs. This description may bring to mind both Kitaro and YMO, but I find that Yoh-Chu-Sha has a warmth and grounding that much of Kitaro's music lacks, while being of a much darker tone than YMO. But I'm no expert like Mr. Kent, this is just my opinion based on the small selection I have heard so far. Rather curiously for a band, most songs are written by just one of either of the two members (some were even made before they first met) and it's possible to tell who did what - Tsukue's songs tend to be upbeat and poppy, with something of HIRASAWA Susumu about them, while it's the tingly dark magic of Dgidgi's compositions that make Yôchû Sha unique.

This discography lists both Yoh-Chu-Sha releases and various other projects by Tsukue, with Japanese titles that you may need to change your browser's text encoding to see. Most of their work is self-released and can be purchased through a form on their web-site or downloaded (legally) from sites such as MP3.com.au.

Tsukue (机) Soundtrack "Free Ferris Wheel" (組曲 移動観覧車 Kumikyoku "Idô Kanransha")

Free Ferris Wheel
Composed in 1996, self-released on CD-R in 2000.

Instrumental except for one track which has a few lines of speech from the play it was composed for. Mostly very soothing, glass-like ambient synth music with occasional moments of drama (the strings breaking in on the fourth, longest track is a very memorable moment) and lots of background noises of people running or laughing etc. Unlike their vocal albums it seems unintentionally outdated now, but still has some sort of retro charm and gets played very often as background music while I work. It's a just a shame that it's all so short (12 tracks but only 27 minutes), which is unusual for this type of music.
Yoh-Chu-Sha (幼虫社) Larval Era (幼 虫期 Yoh-Chu-Ki) (@)
Larval Era
Composed 1992-1997, self-released on cassette tape in 1998.
  1. Natsu-no-mushi (夏の虫)
  2. Tsuki-Yori (月ヨリ)
  3. Hear the Shades Stillst the Moon (盲の鳥よ時を告げよ、(耳を澄ませ)月が凍る。Meshii no Tori yo Toki o Tsuge yo, (Mimi o Sumase) Tsuki ga Kôru.)
  4. Kitsune-no-yomeiri (きつねのよめいり)
  5. Larval-era (幼虫期 Yôchû-ki)
  6. symptom (予兆 yochô)
  7. New Disease
  8. a Seascape (あるふうけい Arufûkei)
  9. Saisei (再醒)
  10. Picaresque Girl (ピカレスクモールの髪の長い歌い姫 Pikaresukumôru no Kami no Nagai Utai Hime)
This remains my favourite and most listened-to of all albums, so please my lengthy ranting. The 'Larval Era' of the title is age of myths and legends which inspired the songs, and although they haven't really done much else like it, this is the definitive Yôchû sound - a synthesised version of traditional oriental music that just manages to stay on the right side of camp - and even when it treads the line this only adds to the enjoyment and variety. It's not that the album is disparate, however. Rather it is all set in one world, but it is a world with many aspects which are all explored. The music itself is a perfect, magical combination of new age floatiness with surging, organic base and fragile electronics which bears some resemblance to Goldfrapp's Felt Mountain, Björk's Vespertine and Kate Bush's The Ninth Wave, but relocated to a WaLoli twilight world of silk kimonos and chirping cicadas. Unfortunately, it's rather impossible to find now that the cassette has been discontinued while they re-record it for a CD version (the last I heard is that it's still being worked on, but other projects have just set it back by several years). I should also mention that the last song is of a very different, upbeat and European sound which in any other place would have shattered the illusion, but as an ending it serves as a useful transition back into modern-day life. I was certain that the lyrics for this one were in French, but according to the web-site it's actually Arabic! Either way it is their only non-Japanese song.

Some info on the Japanese titles: Natsu-no-mushi means "Insect of Summer", Kitsune-no-yomeiri is "The Foxes' Wedding" while Saisei roughly translates as "Reawakening".
Yoh-Chu-Sha (幼虫社) departure (船 出 funade) e.p. (@)
Released on CD by Club Lunatica.
Contains 2 songs from the Larval Era album along with the previously unreleased title track, all of them tied together by an aquatic theme, and presumable identical to the album versions. Easily confused with the funade compilation LP below as they have the same Japanese title.
Club Lunatica V.A.
funade (船出) tones from far east (*)
Released on CD by Club Lunatica.
16-track compilation album on which the over 7 minutes-long song voyage (漂流 hyôryû) first appeared.
Yoh-Chu-Sha (幼虫社) EDEN (廃園 Xai-en)
Released on CD by Club Lunatica in 2001, catalogue number is CL-014.
9 tracks and 41 minutes in total, including 6 new songs along with the previously released New Disease, voyage and departure. I haven't heard the earlier versions of these so can't say if they are any different. The Japanese title Xai-en means 'wasted garden' which is appropriate for the story of the garden of Eden which the tracks have been arranged to tell, and it can beven e slightly disturbing on a first listen due to songs as haunting as eden II and salamandor. While the seven seas of the moon and New Disease retain some of the oriental feel of the previous album, it mostly takes a more generic electronic approach with more upbeat songs and some extensive use of strings, electric guitar and 'noise-music'. It's certainly creative, but the lack of a both a strong ethnicity and a fully formed world make this by far my least favourite of their albums.More than anything it was the artwork which persuaded me to buy it, and as it was by manga-ka I expected there to be story in a leaflet. Disappointingly, all the pages have the same image printed in different ways with the lyrics overlaid in tiny, impossible to read kanji. It is however one of the most beautiful images that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing and the thick, shiny and unusually textured paper really does it justice.
Nekomatsuri-hime (猫祭り姫)
Self-released on CD-R.
If Yoh-Chu-Sha is the dark, fragile mystery of ancient legends, then the singer/songwriter/cardboard-box-doll-house-maker Nekomatsuri-Hime (which means "Cat Festival Princess) is the "spookiness" of the obligatory haunted house level in a childish video game. However, I can't fault it for not being varied, back-flipping as it does between fluorescent bubblegum pop and pseudo-GothiLoli ballads with "haunting" piano loops and samples of a ticking clock. Certainly worth downloading if you can tolerate the overly cute voices of female animé seiyû (but challenging even then) and I enjoyed it more then EDEN, if only for the significantly clearer recording and YMO-like complexity of Tsukue's arrangements. And I have no idea what the word "HAKOIRI" comes from.
猫 祭り姫 + 幼虫社 Area N (第N無人居住区 Dai N Mujin Kyojûku) (@)
Self-released on CD-R.
  1. good night song (おやすみのうた oyasumi no uta)|
  2. the Ark (the cardboard ship) (箱舟 Hakobune)
  3. the silent city (沈黙の町 chinmoku no machi)
  4. café 68 (妄想喫茶ジェノサイド môsô kissa jienosaido)
  5. the city in haze (陽炎街 kagerô machi)
  6. opening theme of 'magical princess Lemon Chiffon' (魔法乙女レモンシフォン mahô otome Remon Shifon)
  7. a slope to the other side (逆道 gyaku michi)
Both Yoh-Chu-Sha and Nekomaturi-Hime have worked with art installations and illustration as well as music, and with this they combined their talents in the creation of a cardboard city and a series of songs which tell the story of how it was built and eventually abandoned. This soundtrack EP was self-released as an elaborately packaged CD-R and later made available online in 2004. The sound has long since moved on from the feudal fantasy of Yoh-Chu-Ki in favour of 80s pop, nursery rhymes and, most noticeably of all, the synthesised strings which are now used on all of the songs. These all combine to make it just as distinctive and beautiful as that first album, a sound perhaps best described as a good but rather normal film or video-game soundtrack on a cassette tape which has been much improved by being accidentally dropped in a fish-tank. Most songs have Nekomatsuri on lead vocals with Dgidgi in the background, but fortunately they swap places on a couple of tracks and the latter seems positively operatic in comparison.
Yoh-Chu-Sha (幼虫社) Otofuku (福神町綺譚音曲集) (*)
Released on CD by Club Lunatica.
  1. 来福
  2. オーゼとソネット
  3. 町の風景 (午前十一時)
  4. あけくれ
  5. 夜鶯
  6. 紫電一閃湯煙乱舞
  7. ねりみ哀歌第一
  8. 蒸気革命
  9. ねりみ哀歌第二
  10. 螢に願いを
  11. 樂園の憂鬱
  12. 夢の逢瀬
  13. あけくれ (radio)
  14. 町の風景 (午后三時)
  15. 月ハ今宵モ君ヲ照ラス
I really don't have any idea what this is, other than being the 'collaboration with a manga artist' which was mentioned on the last update of their English web-site back in 2001. I don't even know if "Otofuku" is really what it's called. All I can do is guess that it's a pretty big project (even bigger than Area N) because they've been planning it for so long and the number of tracks on the CD is far more than we are used to from them. If the 'radio' streams from the web-site are anything to go by, it seems very much in the cute-but-creepy style of their work with Nekomatsuri-Hime, but poppy and without the strings of Area N.

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