Love Psychedelico - The Film
"If there's such a thing as music that's too good to be "pop", but too catchy not be, then the music of Love Psychedelico is it...In short, if you love Love Psychedelico, then this film is a must see."
- Mighty Peking Man
Love Psychedelico - The Film 1999.12-2002.05 (2002)
Director: Tomohiko Nakamura
Cast: Kumi, Naoki Sato
Running Time: 77 min.
Plot: See review below.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: If there's such a thing as music that's too good to be "pop", but too catchy not to be, then the music of Love Psychedelico is it. Love Psychedelico is a Japanese indie-pop duo that's heavily influenced by classic rock of the 60's and 70's (Janis Joplin, Beatles, Led Zepplin) - however, their music style doesn't stop there. Consisting of a female lead singer named Kumi and guitar frontman Naoki Sato, Love Psychedelico went from playing small venues around Japan to becoming one of Asia's most critically acclaimed musical acts of their time. Don't get them confused with all that overproduced J-pop bubblegum music like The Brilliant Green, or the Babyface-esque R&B flavor of vocalists like Utada Hikaru. Though some of that stuff may be cute, it will never reach the artistic energy, strong distinctive vocals and a genius musical creation of a legendary band -- a band like Love Pyschedelico.
Love Psychedelico first caught my attention, not when I heard them, but when I glanced at their album covers for the first time. So far, they have released two full length albums. The first was facetiously titled "Love Psychedelico - The Greatest Hits" (2001) and the second was called "Love Psychedelico Orchestra" (2002). Being a graphic designer, I was able to instantly gain appreciation for their album cover designs. The designs had a very 60's retro-feel to them - very plain, no color, all in black & white with a standard Helvetica font and a line-art image of what appears to be a woman (possibly Kumi?) in 60's fashion attire. As simple as the album art was, it was highly effective to the eye. Little did I know, those album cover designs mirrored what kind of music Love Psychedelico was all about...simple music influenced by classic rock without a whole lot of splash, but at the same time, some of the most creative sounds and vocals I have ever heard in the last 20 or so music-listening years of my life.
Like I said, there's more to Love Psychedelico than just being an inventive band influenced by classic rock. First of all, most of their songs consists of Japanese and English lyrics - to some, this may sound like it would be an odd product - but after hearing a few songs, you'll agree that the clash between the two languages is one of the band's greatest appeals. And then there's Kumi's voice...sometimes soft and gentle, sometimes rough and ready. Whether it's love, love-loss, retribution, or a song about waking up and playing a guitar while being free; her powerful, diverse voice gets the point across. Together with Naoki Sato, possibly the musical mastermind behind the band, the duo creates music that makes every track on both of their albums addicting, pleasing and worth listening to without skipping a single song. A rare case in this day and age of album releases that usually have 3 or 4 songs that are really good.
In late 2002, the band released "Love Psychedelico - The Film", a DVD that documents many angles of the band's happenings. It also spends a great deal showcasing the making-of their music videos, as well as insightful footage of their Japanese and U.S. concerts. You also get to follow Kumi and Naoki around as they venture everywhere from Kumi's pre-school in San Francisco to live, unplugged, candid performances in the outskirts of Texas as well as other areas.
Here are some details of what you can expect from the DVD:
Making-of music video footage: Behind the scenes and making-of music video clips featuring "Lady Madonna" (filmed in Taipei, Taiwan), "Last Smile" (filmed in Brighton Beach - Coney Island - New York, New York), and Free World (filmed in Argyle - Dallas, Texas). Also included are short clips from their "Your Song" and "I Will Be With You" videos.
Concert and tour footage: Lots of clips and backstage footage of many of their tours and venue appearances - covering everywhere from Japan to various locations in the U.S.
Candid footage: This set of footage sheds some light on how full of life Kumi and Naoki Sato are. Much of it takes place in various parts of Texas. One of my favorite scenes is where Naoki puts a quarter in one of those palm reading machines ("Alexander: The Man Who Knows Everything", in which you place your hand on a steel handprint and your fortune lights up on one of the light bulbs) and he gets his fortune lit under "Artist". They all laugh discovering there was actually a fortune under "Musician".
One of the most memorable scenes in the film comes when Kumi and Naoki play their music in the street of some festival going on in Austin, Texas. As they play, several spectators stop and watch, and in little time, more people start to join in and they end up with a nice-sized audience who appreciate their music so much that a couple of them ask if they have a CD available to buy.
Another scene has Naoki buying a $1400 guitar from a family-owned guitar shop in Austin Texas. A little after the purchase, Kumi and Naoki relax under a tree to test out his new toy by performing acoustic versions of "Free World" and "Moonly". It's instances like these is where you really see how talented Love Psychedelico really is.
Kumi also gets to take a trip down memory lane, where she tours her old pre-school (Hope Lutheran Pre-School) in San Francisco, California. She's welcomed by her old teachers who remember her when she was just a kid.
And of course, there's much more...
The only thing this film could have used was longer clips of some of the live performances (some of them end before they even start) and full versions of the music videos - but that's nitpicking. The film is obviously meant for fans who are already familiar with their music and want to get to know more about Love Psychedelico's creative process on the road and other adventures that surround the band's musical career. It is no way a biography about the band or some kind of advertising scheme to make people fall in love with their music, even though, it's bound to happen.
Also, be advised that this DVD does not feature English subtitles. Most of the film is in Japanese, so it would be nice to have them. However, I personally didn't think it weakened my viewing pleasure.
In short, if you love Love Psychedelico, then this film is a must see.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 10/10