Lie and a Chameleon – JUGEM


As anyone who’s been lucky enough to visit Tokyo will testify that municipality has a thriving music scene featuring fine bands of many hues. Lie and a Chameleon were formed in 2014 from that fertile scene have just unleashed their second full length album, JUGEM, and it’s a pleasing amalgamation of post-hardcore and math rock that seems destined to propel the band into the global consciousness.

‘Goodbye To Walpole’ is the strong opener, highly infectious and contagious, it explodes in shards of effervescence and fractures, kaleidoscope like, revealing a myriad of musical possibilities. Propelled forth by an insanely catchy riff ‘Goodbye To Walpole’ immediately evidences Lie and a Chameleon as a difficult band to categorise with its angular synths that recall early Cabaret Voltaire, a twin guitar attack that deliver riffs with staccato fury and the fleet of foot drums, recalling the very best of math rock, are all mixed in a delicious soup. And just when you’ve got your head around that, the band drop a high-octane ska breakdown just to mess with any preconceived expectations.

If, like me, your obsessions include anime and metal then ‘0’ is the perfect tonic and combines them in one perfect song. The theme tune for the mobile gacha game Bleach: Brave Souls, ‘0’ is full of angular riffs that scythe the air as the band scrawl their sound on every available surface while Cham’s vocals ululate with the beat and ensures ‘0’ almost breathes. Like a cat creeping through a nocturnal cityscape ‘binary’ swings with an inherent groove and is paired with the equally vivacious ‘gimmick destruction’. A rubber ball bouncing perpetually between two walls ‘gimmick destruction’ is a bright and shiny number that finds the vocals encased within walls of guitars that’s tethered to earth by a solid rhythm section.

Although the words are sung in Japanese I’m picking up a definite Philip K Dick vibe in the lyrics. There’s an air of a not-too-distant dystopian future, a blurring of fantasy and reality, that ensues JUGEM hangs together as a cohesive whole. Musically too the songs are interconnected despite inhabiting their own unique space. Case in point being the next three tracks: ‘Time Lapse’ is introduced by an almost free form jazz sensibility and stands in marked contrast to the following ‘second hand’ which tumbles over the listener like a rockfall and adds some rap vocals to create a nu-metal feel as the abrupt ‘STOP!’ juxtaposes clean and gang vocals.

The production on JUGEM is a real boon and gives each instrument room to breathe as ‘Room 102 neighbour’ is punctuated by huge white spaces and, with plenty of echo on the guitar, presents an other-worldly, alternative reality. With an anthemic riff ‘Little Journey’ opens rather sedately then suddenly bursts into life before the musical maze that is ‘Mononoke In The Fiction’ effortlessly switches up tempos and rhythms. There’s something very cinematic and evocative about Lie and a Chameleon’s sound that lends itself well to television and it’s no surprise that ‘Mononoke In The Fiction’ was chosen as the theme tune for the In/Spectre anime.

Rounding out the album is ‘BIG FISH’, a track that’s more restrained than its predecessors, and it’s the type of song that’d work well rolling over end credits of some cool Japanese film noir and brings JUGEM to a fitting conclusion.

Track listing:

  1. Goodbye to Walpole
  2. 0
  3. binary
  4. gimmick destruction
  5. (No title)
  6. Time Lapse
  7. second hand
  8. STOP!
  9. Room 102 neighbour
  10. Little Journey
  11. Mononoke In The Fiction
  12. BIG FISH