“Keep breathing, don’t stop and fill your little lungs,” sings Masaya Mifune, singer and songwriter for the Japan-based band Roth Bart Baron, on the song “Never Forget,” the first single released from the group’s fifth EP, Loud color(s) & Silence festival.
“There are still some things I want to do even if it means sacrificing the world,” sings Mifune.
The songwriting on Roth Bart Baron’s latest offering is complex – an amalgam of genres that creates a wall of sound that reaches deep, and is hard to ignore.
In his review of the single “Never Forget,” TW music writer Ed Cunningham calls Roth Bart Baron’s music “elegant and dramatic … such mind-broadening music doesn’t come around very often.”
Mifune’s lyrics are brooding with intricate wordplay, portraying the outsider longing to join the crowd yet blocked by inner turmoil. The abstract messaging and melancholic phrasing follows along the lines of indie music forefathers like Robert Smith of The Cure and Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus.
Roth Bart Baron’s music, meanwhile, is categorized as indie folk, which is apt as the songs are guitar and piano driven, with repetitive structure and beats. The selection of instrumental arrangements and styles of genre that accentuate each song are what distinguish the sound of Roth Bart Baron.
Traditional Japanese instruments appear on the album, as well as the Korg synth and a variety of percussion instruments, with crescendos punctuated by brash cymbal crashes. A horn section is used persistently throughout the album, permeating each song with somber tones while adding a layer of buoyancy. The horn interludes on the third track on the album, “Destroy,” sound like a New Orleans dixieland band marching in a funeral rather than the Mardi Gras parade.
Meanwhile, the layers of harmonies recorded by Mifune are reminiscent of Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks’ aborted Smile sessions, while his cadence and pastoral vocal tones reflect those of British folk singer Nick Drake, particularly from Drake’s later work on the Pink Moon album.
Loud color(s) & Silence festival features several tracks mixed by Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Black Midi) and Tim Pennells (Floating Points) and was mastered by Chris Athens (Drake, Kehlani). The track “Eve” features up-and-coming Tokyo-based singer Hana.
Written, recorded and composed in 2020, the concept of the album focuses on the stagnant lifestyle imposed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and centers around the urging questions about the role of music in today’s world when there are no live concerts and music festivals, ultimately limiting social interaction.
“Dear friends, where will we fly next?” Mifune sings on “Never Forget.”
Roth Bart Baron, founded in 2008, is considered the solo project of Mifune, while a live band of seven and sometimes up to 10 members regularly plays venues in Tokyo and all over Japan. Masaya independently released RBB’s debut album, The Ice Age, in July 2014, most of which was recorded at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia, with Brian McTear (Kurt Vile, the War on Drugs) as co-producer and mixing engineer Jonathan Low (The National, Sufjan Stevens).
In 2015, the band recorded at Montreal Hotel 2 Tango studio to produce their second album Atom. The following year, Roth Bart Baron performed at Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic. They released their fourth album, The Name Of The Beasts, in 2019 to considerable critical acclaim. Upon release, the band was awarded the Japanese Apple Vinegar Music Award for the best new artist of the year in April 2020.
Loud color(s) & Silence festival was released on all online streaming services as of October 28, 2020.
On November 11, the vinyl and a limited edition special package of vinyl will be released. The special package will be a limited edition of 100, with a gorgeous binding and art book. Available at Roth Bart Baron’s online store.
Roth Bart Baron also make an appearance on the TW Live House Halloween Special on October 31, 2020.