released 2004, contemode.
The summer of 2004 was sunny, shiny, and littered with tons of great pop albums that signified a revival of the niche and counter cultural Shibuya-kei genre. Pizzicato Five and Salon Music were long gone and inactive, and a new generation of torch bearers had arrived on the scene, complete with retro fashion (Nomoto Karia’s heavy bangs sealed her place in the Shibuya-kei books), and the dazzlingly obscure samples that were prevalent among the earlier revolution.
While Nomoto Karia (affectionately referred to as ‘Karly’ for most of her musical career) carried on Pizzicato Five’s legacy by becoming Konishi Yasuharu’s protégé, Nakata Yasutaka was out blazing his own trail of genius by taking the established sounds and styles of Shibuya-kei and ‘picopop’ and adding unique, fresh twists on the formulas with his own group ‘capsule’ (consisting of only Nakata and his vocalist/fashion muse Koshijima Toshiko).
As capsule began to gain notoriety while keeping extremely active (in the early 2000s, it wasn’t unheard of for capsule to release multiple albums within a year of each other), Nakata began adding artists to his very own imprint, contemode records. One such addition was a young computer and fashion geek by the name of Ichikawa Nagisa. NAGISA COSMETIC is the joint project of Ichikawa’s lyrical stylings and Nakata’s then pop genius and unique flair on the japanese meets french pop blueprint.
Arguably one of Nakata’s best production works, NAGISA COSMETIC should not be missed. Sadly, it’s one of the more underrated and underrepresented works in his catalogue, and Ichikawa herself seems to not really want anything to do with it (she makes no mention of it on any of her social media as of 2018). That being said, it’s a truly fantastic little album that’s filled to the brim with sweet and tangy shibukei goodness. I’ve attached the album in its entirety to this article for your listening pleasure, and I really hope you get something out of it (at least acknowledge the peak pop pleasure that is ‘Life Balance’).
Before Nakata Yasutaka became a phone-in DJ and resident of Japan’s hottest dance clubs, and before Nagisa Ichikawa became a prominent figure in the world of Japanese fashion and public relations, go back to a time when music was much more carefree, Nakata gave more of a fuck, and things were just….cosmetic and happy!