Named after 四谷怪談, a 1956 black-and-white Japanese horror movie by Masaki Mori and its book predecessor Toukaidou Yotsuya Kaidan (Tsuruya Nanboku, 1826) one of the most famous ghost stories in Japan, Odessa based multi-genre experimentalists YOTSUYA KAIDAN are back with an epic new record “Крошка-комета”, an effort that rebuilds the well-worn concept of screamo and post hardcore and invites for a well-rounder journey built on engaging concepts and universal themes. Its subject matter, captivating, poignant and unconventional delivery, as well as ways in which the album deviates from most of you’ve heard in the genre, it all makes it a deeply personal and a truly resonant record. We sat down with vocalist Valik Lapshin to give you his insightful commentary on the concept behind the whole record, as well as an honest track-by-track rundown that gives a solid, in-depth look on each of the songs.
The concepts and lyrical themes behind the “Baby Comet”:
At the early stage of the album’s development our drummer Yurii has advised me to compose all the lyrics into one big story and make this album a conceptual one. I really liked this idea because I dreamed of becoming a filmmaker in my childhood, and the presentation of lyrics in a form of an integral narrative seemed to me a peculiar possibility, albeit not directly, but somehow still fulfill this dream.
Most of my lyrics are about amorous experiences, but through every one of them I tried to convey another completely different idea. I started creating the mosaic from sketches, combining them into a single picture, and have found that these songs describe various stages of relationships with different people, from situations of meeting for the first time to memories of good days spent together, or post-traumatic syndrome, which has been following me for several years. Of course, different songs are written about different girls whom I’ve met in my life, and I wanted to address something to each of them separately: apologize befor one, express my resentment to the other, because the situations in relationships were drastically different. However, focusing on the conceptuality of the album, I have decided to combine the described situations into one, single image of an elusive, strange, “bad” girl, and tell the history of relations and their ending with her.
The image of the main hero of the story is written off from me: he is a young painter who plays in a punk band, who is in love and inspired. All his experiences and situations which are described in the lyrics have really happened to me, so despite the fact that the album is a story which is told in the style of magical realism, all the emotions and feelings were conveyed by me in a completely honest and sincere way. For the sake of adding a zest to the album, I have turned the object of passion of the protagonist into a mysterious creature which passes through the walls, not reflecting in the pictures and disappears from the portraits. However, all these lines can be perceived as beautiful metaphors, describing the experiences of the hero about the Baby Comet and about her angelic (or diabolic?) beauty.
Every problem I face somehow leads me through the ornate labyrinth of relationships with other people, so all nine songs have different moods: from a vibrant and life-affirming emo-punk rock reflecting the vibrant emotions of falling in love and impassioned deeds to crushing post-blackmetal compositions which scream about the breakup, and lead us to the second part of the album, built entirely on reflection.
Track-by-track commentary by vocalist Valik Lapshin:
Flight Over a Transparent City
The story begins with an imaginary flight over a transparent city. The main character is in love with a stranger and is looking for her in the “gutters of faceless slums”, in the lights of bars and in the noise of street parties. The image of the city is very important for the listener’s perception of the album – it is one of the keynotes of the whole narrative. The city gradually fades with each song, becomes more and more faded and monotonous – I tried to reflect the hardness of perception of the surrounding world in the state of painful breakup.
“Flight …” conveys the atmosphere of exciting passion and pleasant intoxication of young lovers by mutual raging natural chemistry. These experiences are strongly conveyed with the music. The pursuit of carnal desires, quite natural for the young and boiling blood, is reflected by swift riffs that carry shocking and semi-abstruse lyrics, saturated with vivid images. The orgasmic central part leads us to a musical interlude, soft and very contrasting, causing a dramatic change in mood, disappearing into dreamy thoughts of higher matter. By this end of the first chapter we wanted to reflect the sincere love of the protagonist and the inner emptiness that he feels when the object of his passion becomes unreachable.
“Spray paint on walls!” Few people know that most part of my life has been occupied by the passion for graffiti and street art. I went through different stages of manifesting myself as a graffiti-writer, and the brightest adventures of my life were connected with this urban culture. We are an honest band, so why not to sing about this? Even if at first glance, this topic is supposedly not very suitable for the image of the band and stands out of the genre we have started with. But we have decided to break the rules.
Night painting is a special kind of magic. Especially those cases when your drawings or inscriptions are the way you really want to say something to someone very important to you. I tried to splash out these emotions honestly, from adrenaline rush and the fear of being caught under the cover of the night, until the morning walk home with returning back to all of the “crime scenes” to see how brightly everything that you drew looks, while you were hiding in the shadows of city streets before. This song is dedicated to all the people from the graffiti movement that I’ve met, as well as to every brave soul who is in love and who has the insanity to do vivid things for their partner without thinking about the consequences.
This song describes one of the especially pleasant evenings of my life. While writing the lyrics for this one, I tried to convey the picture of memories from my consciousness as detailed as possible, so the listener could have the opportunity to clearly recreate the feelings that I had experienced that evening.
This song is about a walk by the sea on one rainy summer evening. This song is about trembling for every little thing, about what it’s like to love a person so much that even her tattered sneakers are treated like an invaluable treasure, and your own stretched t-shirt looks like a beautiful dress on her. This song is about the fact that even an old blurry snapshot made on such a magical day can transfer you to your own little paradise, or on the contrary, painfully scratch your memory.
“Flow” was originally conceived as a kind of reference to “For Those Who’re Still Emo In 2017”, but this time it should’ve not be a description of a certain style and charm of post-soviet emo parties, but a song dedicated to all musicians playing in any style. I wanted to tell about the feelings of underestimation of your efforts, which you experience when people which are close to you, whether beloved ones or your parents, do not understand why you are engaged in making records, touring and publishing albums. Uninterestedness and lack of support in the most important part of your life sometimes painfully hurts your self-esteem and sows a bunch of doubts in your head. Initially, I wanted to write this track about the fictional band of the protagonist, and that Baby Comet is not up to it, although she does not even suspect that all these songs that fans sing at concerts by heart are dedicated to her. However, in the process of recording, I realized that the text does not fit the mood. The fact is that this is our softest song in the history of the band. The humble riff in the Sonic Youth style of the times of Washing Machine and the purring vocal pattern, impressively and carelessly scattered throughout the structure of the song, did not quite stick to the hymn of desperate musicians. The only thing that is very similar to music is the description of the rehearsal for a crazy looped riff in the coda, creating a sense of jam, a thread that makes people feel like when they are playing together.
As a result, the song has turned into a hymn to all those people who were fortunate enough to meet the muse on their way. A person who inspires creativity, beautiful words, drawings, deeds, sacrifices. Baby Comet bursts into a workshop of the hero-narrator with a flash, poses for his drawings, makes fanciful tricks, and the lines about the rehearsal are turned into the lines about a loudly sounding record that muffles the sorcerous flow of passion. “This is our flow, this is our punk-rock.”
The most powerful and heartbreaking song of the album, closing the first act. Explosive blastbeats, broken riffs, piercing screams – it’s a shoegazing/post-black metal ballad, telling about the breakup of the characters. The image of the city, melting under the merciless sun and the feeling of unbearable coldness inside. While the asphalt is heated on the roads, turning into a mirror on the horizon, everything turns into an iceberg inside the narrator. The description of the telephone conversation, filled with indefinite emotions and unspoken phrases, leads us to the image of a house and a window where a long-legged, cunning witch is probably already preparing new intrigues and petting her pedigreed dog, smoking a skillfully rolled up cigarette. Again, there is a description of the details and trifles that were cut into the memory. Having lost sight of them, you feel that you have been deprived of the opportunity to enjoy something that the other person wouldn’t ever have given any slightest importance to. It’s a silly idea to delete a place where you can meet each other again from the map of your small city, but there is no other way, because you can not pretend that you won’t notice each other.
This song, first of all, is about the creative crisis. When everything previously given with such ease suddenly turns into a challenge. When you really want to create something, to write a song or to paint a picture, but your hands don’t obey. And the only thing that was filling your life with the meaning, leaves you. I have met so many talented people in my life, and the absolute majority of them had experienced such an unproductive period which was destroying something incredibly important inside every one of them. The causes of this phenomenon can be very different, from the banal abuse of drugs and alcohol to personal drama or problems with psychological health.
The state of creative crisis is mostly described in our fairy tale as Baby Comet’s escape from the previously painted pictures of the artist. However, based on my own experience, I give the hero the understanding that the only thing that can help is a continuous effort of returning to work. That is why our (intentionally nameless) hero again and again pounces on the canvas with a brush, stubbornly displaying a precious image that continues to disappear uncontrollably. The hero does not have a name, so that each of you could put yourself into his place and manifest associative visual plot in your consciousness while hearing the words of the song. I’m sure that the situations described in the songs are quite archetypal, and many of you have experienced similar sensations.
The song which gave album the title describes the feeling of one’s own guilt, the search for the reasons of breakup and the feeling of a childish grief mixed with a sense of self-righteousness, even when you clearly understand with your mind that nobody really owes you anything. All people are completely free in their actions and deeds, so you need to accept the choice of your loved one, even if it hurts you to the depths of your soul. This song is about a violent realization of loss, about the soul turned inside out. The text is deliberately composed crumpled, and always ends with unspoken phrases, like a hundred times started and erased message that the hero writes, being in different moods. His true message is one: “Come back”.
When the magic of the most important relationship for you ends, and your eyes are soapy with the dullness of everyday’s life, the memories of real magic that is awakening in your heart are blocked, and you feel like you have been deceived. When the magic happening with you is replaced by the cheap mysticism, and it seems to you that you were simply drowning in your own ridiculous expectations from the person who was playing with you, without giving any importance to it… But suddenly, you accidentally encounter this person somewhere in a noisy party, while being in a drunken, perhaps even inadequate state, when the picture is blurred like a lighted film before your eyes, and all the people around you turn into friends, you deceive yourself and try to see the desire in a person to return everything back. Or maybe she really wants it?.. Maybe a shadow that does not move and silently stares in your direction knows better what it needs? Or is there no shadow at all?
This song is about the foolishness of looking for a superficial and thoughtless way out of difficult life situations and depression by pouring them with alcohol or using psychotropic substances, because the “magic” given to you for a short night is just a cheap trick of your misted and poisoned consciousness, and most likely your problems will only become worse.
I really had a dream. I really woke up in tears. The flickering of the sea port can be really seen from our studio window, and it’s true that since a certain period of time it has become very difficult for me to build relationships. Solid failures and misunderstandings, like a sticky black resin, are burning me again and again. This is the saddest song which has ever been written by us, from which I had tears in public transport while listening to the first raw demos. It seems that all the negative emotions and problems of Yotsuya Kaidan members have been accumulated in the final industrial part of the album. And I hear their pain. I understand that in every hit of the drum, every chord taken, these are our unspoken words about our accumulated problems. But when we let these feelings our through our music, we are getting closer, because playing in a band can be compared to a dialogue. I love you, my friends. Without you and without your beautiful, emotional and touching music, I would have never managed to express myself and fulfill my childhood’s dream of directing the story. Even if it’s in the form of a music album.