To Do as Infinity and beyond

One of the reasons I haven’t been posting much is because I’ve been working on my bedroom studio project, Eponymous 4. I like to think everything I listen to — from Duran Duran to Number Girl — influences what I do with Eponymous 4, but if I had to make a direct parallel between it and other bands, I’d have to namedrop Tears for Fears and Do As Infinity.

Rolling Stone once described Tears for Fears as the missing link between the Cure and Sade, which would be something of an apt description for Do As Infinity. The duo could rock out, but not at the expense of a chart-friendly pop hook.

Do As Infinity disbanded in 2005, and it’s members have gone on to separate projects, round up here for your convenience.

Van Tomiko, farewell

It’s odd titling your debut album farewell, but for Van, it’s something of a symbolic gesture, as she makes the transition from front woman to solo singer. It’s also a parting gesture with the rock half of Do As Infinity’s signature sound.

farewell is incredibly smooth, very mellow and quite jazzy. It’s not until the third track, "urara", when she finally kicks it — but on a very lightweight, Bacharach-steeped track.

A few tracks attempt to call to mind the energy of Do As Infinity — "complacence" is anything but, while the guitar work "Nue no Naku Yoru" doesn’t quite rise to Owatari Ryo’s level of skill — but the rest of the album offers up the usual pop convention.

And it actually suits Van. She sounds best when the production work stays out of the way ("morning glory", "Hold Me",), but some of the forrays into funk ("Essence") and gospel ("Before Sunset") aren’t entirely misdirected.

farewell isn’t an impressive solo debut, but it is an unexpected and nice change of pace for a singer with as dynamic a presence as Van Tomiko.

Missile Innovation, Be a man

Owatari Ryo got involved with Missile Innovation before Do As Infinity split up, and it’s where he ended up when they did.

Missile Innovation is mainstream Japanese rock on the level of B’z or Remioromen, and the trio’s debut album is the usual gesture of pop tunefullness and large guitars.

Owatari isn’t a magnetic frontperson, and some of his own vocal work with Do As Infinity was flat. His vocal performances on Be a man are competent, but they don’t impress, despite the fact his guitar work is as brilliant as ever.

The band’s music itself is polished and melodic, but it’s the kind of rock that isn’t offensive or unhinged. Chances are — if Number Girl and Quruli are beyond your personal taste, Missile Innovation may fit the bill.

Dazz Feed, Fink of Chandelier

There was never an official announcement about Do as Infinity founder’s Dai Nagao disappearance from the band’s line-up after the second album, and I’ve never been clear on his level of involvement with the group from the third album on.

Dai has since formed a production company, Area404, of which Dazz Feed is a member.

Nobody seems to have told Dazz Feed grunge died 10 years ago — the band hammers at their guitars in that metal-punk hybrid ripening for a comeback in another five years.

But despite the seemingly conventional Black Sabbath-by-Nirvana conventions, the band’s debut album, Fink of Chandelier, feels remarkably underproduced.

The close, tight sound feels incredibly live, and the restraint with the studio effects makes the band sound blunt and direct. Dai seems to have come to the conclusion that getting out of Dazz Feed’s way was the best approach.

As a result, Fink of Chandelier is wonderfully listenable. Lead singer mariko has a polished but tough voice, and she does a fine job keeping up with the muscular riffs of guitarist RIU.