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WaqWaq Kingdom

July 26th 2024

Mind Onsen

Acclaimed Japan “minyo footwork” duo WaqWaq Kingdom - aka Shigeru Ishihara (DJ Scotch Egg / Seefeel) and Kiki Hitomi (ex-King Midas Sound) - follow October’s feverish Hot Pot Totto album with a brand new EP of adjacent works Mind Onsen.

While vividly coloured with the heady ecstasy and dizzying day-glo sonics that we have come to expect from WaqWaq Kingdom, brand new EP Mind Onsen also marks a compelling diversion from their usual velocity. Partly influenced by producer Shigeru Ishihara’s newfound love of minimalism (he references Terry Riley, LaMonte Young, Philip Glass, and E2-E4), there is a beguiling and hypnotic sense of the transcendental and meditative laced through the record, albeit threaded into the breakneck rhythms and hi-octane energy in which Ishihara and Hitomi excel.

Laced with Tanzanian Singeli-inspired rave thump, speedracer synth, and gamelan bells, an evolving WaqWaq Kingdom’s palette also appears. Tracks unravel into Shinto chimes and chanting voice before spinning away, within moments, to reclaim their joyous SNES and gabba delirium. Ishihara tells us that Mind Onsen is also influenced by traditional Japanese minyo and the koplo dangdut dance music of Indonesia. Later tracks lean further into the mystic: menu-select screens to the blistering bossfights of earlier moments. Hitomi’s voice is treated, reverberous, and recharging, while Ishihara’s production chatters and undulates with sonorous Reichian repetition.

“Mind Onsen is not about an escape from reality, but rather a way to rest your brain and get the energy you need for tomorrow,” vocalist Kiki Hitomi tells us. “It’s a positive message.” The concept is drawn from the traditional Japanese onsen, natural hot springs used for bathing and relaxation. In response to the social and political issues of the current era, Hitomi speaks of the necessity to find peace and calm even in stressful moments. “I visualise myself in the hot spring where I can see the beautiful Japanese mountains and hear the river and natural spring hot water is running,” she writes. “It is a sort of mindfulness meditation that makes me feel happiness and appreciate my life.”

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