Fresh Blood: Atlantis Airport
Atlantis is a mythical ancient civilization while airports connote technological advancement. The band Atlantis Airport are true to their namesake in creating music that brings together the old and new by combining classic pop songwriting sensibility with progressive elements for a fresh twist.
y0den was originally recruited to play guitar for his senpai's band. The make-up and sound of the band changed as members rotated in and out. BONO and then sonezaki later joined in response to a want ad for new band members. y0den who originally played guitar switched to keyboards and the band decided to write prog/experimental pop music that would accentuate sonezaki's beautiful vocals. In 2012, the band decided on the name Atlantis Airport and started performing shows as a 5pc (Vo/Gt/key/Ba/dr)
and released their 1st demo which includes two songs: 1. AnTi pOp ARt 2. LAsT KId piAno
Unfortunately the guitarist and drummer left and Atlantis Airport continued on playing shows less frequently as a 4pc with a support drummer.
They released the fantastic 'A [ ] Passport' ep in 2013 and re-released it with 2 bonus (remix) tracks on August 13, 2014.
The 'A [ ] Passport + 2' ep gets my vote for best release of 2014. At least so far as I have high expectations for 雨のパレード's 「sense」 which comes out on Zankyo records next month. But 'A [ ] Passport + 2' will be difficult to top!
Atlantis Airport's sound is often compared to Clammbon and School Food Punishment. I tend to agree and if you like either of these bands you'll probably enjoy Atlantis Airport as well. AA have a knack for writing incredibly catchy melodies with impeccable song arrangements that flow beautifully from start to finish. The level of songwriting is strikingly mature and polished for such a young band. The song that initially hooked me to Atlantis Airport's music is 'AnTi pOp ARt' which has an aggressive minimalist keyboard motif akin to mouse on the keys and haisuinonasa.
When I saw Atlantis Airport perform live (2014/08/05 @ Fukuoka 四次元public space) I was initially disappointed that they only had one "aggressive" song in the vein of 'AnTi pOp ARt.' I had high expectations for AA prior to watching the show and I left slightly underwhelmed. Most of the bands I like put on live performances that leave much more of an impact compared to their studio recordings. At the time I saw them, Atlantis Airport had just added a guitarist to become a 5pc band again. To be honest I didn't notice much contribution sonically from the addition of guitar but at the same time the overall result seemed messier or cluttered. Maybe they were just getting used to performing with their newest member. The songs I hadn't heard before also seemed to have melodies that were a tad clichéed or overly 'poppy.' And finally, a lot of my favorite bands have truly exceptional drummers. Atlantis Airport's drummer is decent but for a self-proclaimed post-rock or 'math-pop' band the drumming needs to really shine and steal some of the thunder instead of consistently falling to the background.
My high expectations for Atlantis Airport as a candidate for NMFT 7 weren't quite met after seeing them live for the first time. But on the 6hr shinkansen ride back to Tokyo from Fukuoka I listened to the 'A [ ] Passport + 2' ep and fell completely in love with the damn thing. Usually the way a band sounds live is much better than studio recordings since a lot of the raw power, energy and warmth is watered down and sounds overly processed on studio recordings. But Atlantis Airport do a phenomenal job of maintaining the energy, heart and soul of a live performance and capturing it on CD. I had already heard 「映画の中の出来事」and 「AnTi pOp Art」via youtube many times before but listening to the songs more closely with headphones on to demonstrate the finer details really gave me a new level of appreciation for how fantastic the songs really are. 「Goodbye! fool climber」 and 「platform lonesome boy」,the two other songs on the ep are also straight-up classic material. 「Goodbye! fool climber」especially sounds like a song that Clammbon would feel proud to have written. One of the highlights of Atlantis' music is the occasional juxtapositioning of BONO's awesomely dirty, fuzzed-out bass with y0den's crisp, clean keyboards and Sone's smooth vocals. The contrast is both impactful and sublime.
I think prior to watching Atlantis Airport I was expecting a band similar to haisuinonasa. But Atlantis lean more towards pop than they do math in the 'math-pop' spectrum. They really are like the next coming of Clammbon in terms of pop music with a slight experimental/progressive twist.
I'm really looking forward to watching Atlantis Airport perform live again. This time with less prejudice and fewer expectations. (they're playing twice the next time I go to Japan in Sept/Oct). Also being more familiar with the songs may help me enjoy them more when played live. What's weird is that 2 days before I saw them in Fukuoka, they had performed at the rookie stage of the Rock in Japan festival and I'm fairly impressed with the live footage:
One thing I should mention is that Atlantis' vocalist Sonezaki (aka Sone) performs solo from time to time. In Atlantis Airport, Sone writes all of the lyrics but BONO and especially y0den are responsible for the music. Before watching Atlantis Airport, the week prior I had the opportunity to see Sone perform on her own and I was thoroughly impressed. I also bought her demo and I've been listening to it almost as often as the A  Passport ep. Sone is definitely a talented songwriter in her own right and I wouldn't be surprised to see her solo material ending up the basis for future Atlantis Airport songs.
Although her skills at bowling apparently aren't as well honed, but she does do impressions:
Atlantis Airport are a great new band with one of the most solid releases to come out of the Japanese indie/underground circuit in a long time. A  Passport +2 is an instant classic and is destined for countless listens by anyone smart enough to seek out their album. Even though I wasn't completely enamoured by their live performance I think a lot of it had to do with overly high expectations and a mistaken prejudice in believing they would sound more like haisuinonasa than Clammbon. I'll have a number of opportunities to seem them again in September, October and December when I take a few more trips to Japan to help me decide which bands I want to include in NMFT vol 7. But Atlantis Airport are a definitely a serious contender.
If I'm unable to get Atlantis Airport, I can invite this all-female copy band instead (笑):
Atlantis Airportがもうコピーバンドを動かしてるのは本当にすごい！！そしてこのコピーバンド悪くない。Good job!