In 2016, the career of a Tokyo based musical project by name of world’s end girlfriend took a twist. The project, known for abrasive, dense and expansive musical spaces, released an album by the name of LAST WALTZ, adding a ton of influences into the mix. The result is an intriguing, compelling and challenging release that should only serve as the entry point to one of the most interesting careers in underground music. From collaborations with MONO to appearances in film and video games, world’s end girlfriend has experimented with the ties between post rocks, classical music, Japanese soundtracks, noise and much, much more. But it is on 2016 that we completely missed it and thus, it is the project’s 2016 release which we will highlight here.
Besides being the “one that got away” for Heavy Blog, LAST WALTZ is also an interesting album in its own right. Bringing forth the classical music roots of Katsuhiko Maeda, the driving force behind the one man project that is world’s end girlfriend, it creates a sound that is very much its own. Some elements are certainly recognizable; the thick, undulating chords of the opening, self titled track should be immediately recognizable to fans of post rock, as will the echoing, delayed guitars of the following track, “Plein Solell”. The vocal and string arrangements on that track however, are very much of the soundtrack persuasion, reminding us of a theme song to a Final Fantasy title. However, by the time the huge guitars are brought back, comparisons start failing.
This is where we find the essence of world’s end girlfriend. It’s a bit of MONO, a bit of an over the top video game soundtrack, a bit classical and all about the flow of these seemingly disparate elements. The album ducks and weaves between these influences and often injects plenty of electronic elements to make it all work. The end result is something which is quite singular, a phenomenon which defies exact pinpointing. We might rather turn to themes and emotions conveyed by the music, since genre classifications fail us. These include plenty of loneliness and melancholy but also the sense of contained wonder and expressiveness that is so common in post rock.
In short, it’s a beast of many heads that can be consumed in just as many varied ways. You can dig deep and take it apart, listening for the eclectic influences and how they’re woven together or you can just sit back and let it wash over you. LAST WALTZ, more than any other album in the project’s career, is more forgiving in that sense. However, as mentioned above, it should only serve as a taste for what is an incredibly prolific, varied and somewhat unknown career. If you’ve got an open mind and an ear for experimentation, you could do much worse than dig into world’s end girlfriend.