LLLL - Cruel

Get Ready For A Cruel Summer With LLLL’s “Cruel”

Tokyo’s LLLL offers a refreshing dollop of J-pop chillwave with “Cruel.”



It’s not even Memorial Day yet, and it’s been breaching 90°, even here in Portland, Or. - land of famously gray and misty skies - where I am typing. It’s hot - and it’s not just the temperature. The jury is still out if this summer, we will try to forget our troubles and dance ‘til we can’t think, or if the world will erupt in fire and fury. Frankly, it’s nerve-wracking. But that’s why we have pop/dance music, to transmute our experiences and transport ourselves above the din.

Tokyo producer LLLL’s “Cruel” is a refreshing pitcher of mint lemonade while Rome burns. Quietly leaked to the producer’s SoundCloud - like Israeli secrets to Russian spies - “Cruel” is wide-eyed, wide-angle blurred-around-the-edges J-pop chillwave.

The song begins with tender ‘70s electric piano, bringing a soft rock soft-focus, which is quickly met with digital drums and glassy synths. Think The St. Elsewhere Theme (that reference probably means nothing to nobody)... maybe Doogie Howser, M.D.? Something reaching for the future? The scene cuts again, when Pop Idol Ano, from the Japanese Pop Group You’ll Melt More (あの  and ゆるめるモ!, in their native kanji) starts singing - an airy, breathy, misty ethereal shoegaze vocal, faraway, distant, but cool and colorful. It’s pure anime fantasy - the best opening title sequence theme music you could ever dream of, maybe a Studio Ghibli film about the life of Van Gogh? There’d likely be butterflies involved.

Neither LLLL or Ano rely on aesthetics, to get by, although both have truly killer kawaii tastes. LLLL reveals himself to be a deft producer, with “Cruel” ratcheting up, getting more cranking and intense, like its donning mecha battle armor. LLLL’s beats get frenetic, drilling and screwing towards the bedrock of the worth with Aphex Twin/Squarepusher-esque precision, without ever becoming as abrasive as those two gents can get. A rainbowed noisecore/drum ‘n bass meltdown clinches the deal. “Cruel” is your new unicorn riding, sword wielding, magical transformation battle cry anthem, battling the heat and the forces of darkness this summer.

“Cruel” originally hails from 2015, released on the Cruel EP from the Japanese NetLabel Maltine Records. LLLL’s been at it since 2012, and seems to be gaining as much momentum as his drum programming, recently, with a number of high profile remix projects in the works, including the recent Infinity Shreds remix, “Visions Of The Sacred Heart,” dropped earlier this month on L.A.’s Zoom Lens Records. His new EP, Chains Phase III, comes out on Zoom Lens this July 7th.

LLLL has scrapped his way from the NetLabel/SoundCloud/BandCamp Uncanny Grotto and is starting to gain some much deserved appreciation. We Are: The Guard heartily encourage you to check him out. Make your summer a chiller, more colorful season!