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shiroihana

The increase of skill within VK indies

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I'm sure many of you older VK fans have also noticed this, unless I'm imagining things, but I don't think I am.

 

 What I noticed is that the indie bands of the current VK era are playing at a level that they didn't about a decade ago, and I mean in terms of sheer skill. Bands of the present day are blowing bands from about 10 years ago completely out of the water by this metric. They are playing faster, heavier, and more complex riffs. Vocalists have become much more polished singers, and the ability to growl has become much more common in a vocalist's skillset, whereas 10 years ago there weren't many decent growlers in the indies scene, and most of those who were, still didn't perform at the level of guys from bands like Deviloof, Nocturnal Bloodlust, DIMLIM, DEXCORE, D.I.D, etc.

 

I'm wondering if anyone has noticed this, and what the reason may be? Has the VK scene just gotten much more competitive? Are all the average bands simply not being noticed? What's causing this massive skill increase? Another thing I've noticed is that band members don't have zillions of past bands in their resume anymore. It's as if they've reached a high level much more quickly than they used to. Back about a decade ago, the best musicians would usually work their way up to reach a high skill level, having played for years in previous bands before finally reaching a more major status, and continue to improve from there. Nowadays, it's very common for musicians with little to no known band history to play at the level of those with years of history behind them.

 

So I'm just curious to know what you all think, but I'm sorry if this has been brought up before. I have no doubt that this has been on people's minds, especially jaded fans who have been involved for a decade or longer, and have noticed several shifts in the scene within the current era. Lastly, I don't think the skill increase is a bad thing, although I did enjoy the slower, simpler sound that bands used to have. It wasn't as impressive, but the tunes were fun. I don't think bands with my favorite type of sound will ever emerge again, but it doesn't bother me. I still have those bands, and they still exist as a part of history, with music that can still be obtained. Everyone has different taste and I'm happy w/ the scene.

 

Here's a random song I just dug up to show off my taste, just for the fun of it. 

 

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9 hours ago, shiroihana said:

What I noticed is that the indie bands of the current VK era are playing at a level that they didn't about a decade ago, and I mean in terms of sheer skill. Bands of the present day are blowing bands from about 10 years ago completely out of the water by this metric.

nokubura started as a non-vk band, dexcore are from nagoya which always had p interesting thing going on music-wise (like "a decade ago" is 2009; deadman already disbanded by 2006, and both deadman/the studs were better than fucklust and most of dexcore's output compositionally)

9 hours ago, shiroihana said:

They are playing faster, heavier, and more complex riffs. Vocalists have become much more polished singers, and the ability to growl has become much more common in a vocalist's skillset, whereas 10 years ago there weren't many decent growlers in the indies scene, and most of those who were, still didn't perform at the level of guys from bands like Deviloof, Nocturnal Bloodlust, DIMLIM, DEXCORE, D.I.D, etc.

it probably has to do with the overall trend change; the "tired kuroyume imitation act" went away by mid-2000s, and nu-metal vk of mid-2000s in now replaced by kpop halfbreeds, neo-kawaii oshare on its 5th reincarnation, cis idol-kei and core acts.

the demand for new styles means demand for more technically skilled musicians.

shrinking scene profits and less earning venues (where are like half of mid-2000 VK fashion brands now that always needed models?) means that a lot less band members can just cute their way through the scene with minimal/mediocre skill.

9 hours ago, shiroihana said:

Here's a random song I just dug up to show off my taste, just for the fun of it. 

people who wanted dexcore sound 10 years ago probably would have gotten it on a western band gig with like 40 attendees;

once the core-trend is done in VK, it will go the same way as panic channel/indie baroque sound of the past.

it probably just fell out of favor.

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I think there are two main reasons:

 

1. Techniques for smaller studios/home recordings are much more advanced now, so even no budget bands can finally afford making more polished releases. 10+ years ago a decent recording/mixing session would cost a lot of money while pretty much now anyone can fix songs with melodyne, preamp guitars and the like. Especially with indies band you can really feel the quality gap between recorded songs and live performances. A lot of dudes are not even playing their instruments/singing live anymore as they are aware of that.

 

2. Socially speaking the musicians are completely different people nowadays. Otaku-ish dudes who liked music and grew up listening to bands are more common in the scene now, while in the past it was really just a bunch of ex-chimpiras, yakuzas, bikers, hosts, etc. who did not fit into society and were in bands just because there was little else they could do to get chicks (of course there are exceptions). They had the ideas and the fierceness, but mostly no music knowledge whatsoever and especially no will to practice or overthink about their music. Now most guys went to school, have money to learn playing their instruments and afford decent equipment, and especially they all mostly compose on their laptops so there is again a bit gap in what their minds can compose and what their hands can play on an instrument. So the result is mostly polished and well performed songs but  kind of lacks the raw energy and "heart" older bands had instead. There is no right and wrong about it,  it really depends on what you are looking for in music.

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44 minutes ago, 薔薇の末裔 said:

I think there are two main reasons:

 

1. Techniques for smaller studios/home recordings are much more advanced now, so even no budget bands can finally afford making more polished releases. 10+ years ago a decent recording/mixing session would cost a lot of money while pretty much now anyone can fix songs with melodyne, preamp guitars and the like. Especially with indies band you can really feel the quality gap between recorded songs and live performances. A lot of dudes are not even playing their instruments/singing live anymore as they are aware of that.

 

2. Socially speaking the musicians are completely different people nowadays. Otaku-ish dudes who liked music and grew up listening to bands are more common in the scene now, while in the past it was really just a bunch of ex-chimpiras, yakuzas, bikers, hosts, etc. who did not fit into society and were in bands just because there was little else they could do to get chicks (of course there are exceptions). They had the ideas and the fierceness, but mostly no music knowledge whatsoever and especially no will to practice or overthink about their music. Now most guys went to school, have money to learn playing their instruments and afford decent equipment, and especially they all mostly compose on their laptops so there is again a bit gap in what their minds can compose and what their hands can play on an instrument. So the result is mostly polished and well performed songs but  kind of lacks the raw energy and "heart" older bands had instead. There is no right and wrong about it,  it really depends on what you are looking for in music.

 

In addition to a change in the cadre of bandguys, there's also been a cultural shift in general. Nu-metal got off with far less and when the metalcore century arrived it sealed the deal that the general public went for more polished sounds and professional musicians. If you explore deep youtube, twitter or even band OHP's in the old traditional way you can still find those indie bands that sound like no one knows what they're exactly doing, but these bands just aren't popular enough anymore to gain traction outside of performing at multi-man events. Avelcain comes to mind as one band that managed to defy the trend and peek its forehead above the surface even though all they had to offer was spirit. 

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1 hour ago, 薔薇の末裔 said:

2. Socially speaking the musicians are completely different people nowadays. Otaku-ish dudes who liked music and grew up listening to bands are more common in the scene now, while in the past it was really just a bunch of ex-chimpiras, yakuzas, bikers, hosts, etc. who did not fit into society and were in bands just because there was little else they could do to get chicks (of course there are exceptions). They had the ideas and the fierceness, but mostly no music knowledge whatsoever and especially no will to practice or overthink about their music. Now most guys went to school, have money to learn playing their instruments and afford decent equipment, and especially they all mostly compose on their laptops so there is again a bit gap in what their minds can compose and what their hands can play on an instrument. So the result is mostly polished and well performed songs but  kind of lacks the raw energy and "heart" older bands had instead. There is no right and wrong about it,  it really depends on what you are looking for in music.

 

This image of older bandoman being delinquent boys, and how that 'spirit' was somehow in the core of the music they created, is lately coming a lot to my mind. I've noticed it after reading some translated tanuki therads on the old Fuckyeahtanuki tumblr, where several self-proclaimed old bangya described the terrible behaviour of some famous musicians with kouhai or even their bangya (like that bizarre story of Dir's Kyo and Kagerou's Daisuke abusing bangya on parties and so on), and how it changed during mid 2000s with bands who took conscious over the subject and decided to put and end to it (I've read that Nightmare brought it up on and old interview). Other way, once popped up here on MH the idea of the severe -and actually harassing- nature of the relationship between producers, bands and members in the origins of the scene being something that, although cruel, created some kind of 'quality filter' that assured a decent output of production, thus explaining that more accesible music media and technology, plus a more 'healthy' lifestyle, didn't contribute to anything but the rising of bland 'idolized' and plagiarizig acts. 

 

I'll appreciate if someone who believes in this idea could elaborate more over it. While I actually mourn over recent VK being in most cases uninspired, unskilled, etc.,  and wish they could someday bring us a new Malice Mizer or The Gazette, I find kind of problematic to consider that toxic relationships, power abuse, risky life-styles, social marginalization, internalized hate, cruelty, etc. is actually the key to deliver great and memorable art...

 

Btw, nice thread! This is for the things I'm here in MH: interesting discussion about VK's scene development!

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3 hours ago, saiko said:

 

This image of older bandoman being delinquent boys, and how that 'spirit' was somehow in the core of the music they created, is lately coming a lot to my mind. I've noticed it after reading some translated tanuki therads on the old Fuckyeahtanuki tumblr, where several self-proclaimed old bangya described the terrible behaviour of some famous musicians with kouhai or even their bangya (like that bizarre story of Dir's Kyo and Kagerou's Daisuke abusing bangya on parties and so on), and how it changed during mid 2000s with bands who took conscious over the subject and decided to put and end to it (I've read that Nightmare brought it up on and old interview). Other way, once popped up here on MH the idea of the severe -and actually harassing- nature of the relationship between producers, bands and members in the origins of the scene being something that, although cruel, created some kind of 'quality filter' that assured a decent output of production, thus explaining that more accesible music media and technology, plus a more 'healthy' lifestyle, didn't contribute to anything but the rising of bland 'idolized' and plagiarizig acts. 

 

I'll appreciate if someone who believes in this idea could elaborate more over it. While I actually mourn over recent VK being in most cases uninspired, unskilled, etc.,  and wish they could someday bring us a new Malice Mizer or The Gazette, I find kind of problematic to consider that toxic relationships, power abuse, risky life-styles, social marginalization, internalized hate, cruelty, etc. is actually the key to deliver great and memorable art...

 

Btw, nice thread! This is for the things I'm here in MH: interesting discussion about VK's scene development!

Well people abusing their kouhai's and women in general is something that is peculiar the Japanese society of that time overall, not really limited to visual kei. I'm not trying to say that being delinquent boys is the key to making inspired music, but probably their "spirit" somehow helped them to make something new and sincere. Someone "educated" and with enough music knowledge are keen to think inside the box and play along the rules, pretty much put a stop on their creativity.  They would be great writers and performers but not the innovators. For example I hardly imagine skilled musicians being able to write and perform the complete mess that bands like La'Mule or Kuroyume were doing in the 90's. Those bands could write those songs and end up being original because they probably had no idea of what they were doing in the first place. As soon as they got able to play a bunch of chords on guitar they were ready to write songs right out of a 30 minute jam session. Sure a lot of bands were just atrocious and eventually got forgotten, but I guess the ones with fresh ideas, charming persona and decent taste could emerge as popular acts in the end. Some other bands like BUCK-TICK eventually became skilled musicians and polished writers, but kind of kept their original spirit intact as well (looks like BUCK-TICK members still get themselves drunk till morning after all of their gigs, probably younger bands would die at 25 if they had the same lifestyle). Some other eventually learnt about the grammar through experience, and that's when they started being good musicians but suddenly unable to write memorable songs like at the beginning of their career. Probably this applies to other genres as well, when lots of people seem to like a band's indies works even though the musicians got so much more mature in their latest albums.

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5 hours ago, saiko said:

I'll appreciate if someone who believes in this idea could elaborate more over it. While I actually mourn over recent VK being in most cases uninspired, unskilled, etc.,  and wish they could someday bring us a new Malice Mizer or The Gazette, I find kind of problematic to consider that toxic relationships, power abuse, risky life-styles, social marginalization, internalized hate, cruelty, etc. is actually the key to deliver great and memorable art...

I never enjoy discussion on this topic as a whole, because as mentioned, the stigma/process/lifestyle that helped create the old breed of bandomen in 90's VK is gone. Music at it's root, is an extension of the artist(s) overall lifestyle or mindset, or at least always has been for me. With that in mind, VK no longer carries it's "genuineness" or originality, as the bandomen that exist today don't carry that gritty lifestyle or troubled upbringing that we can easily identify in the music.

 

I use this as a metric in order to mark the shift in VK music entering 99' to about 02'-03'.

The angst was still there, but that new generation introduced new themes and methods to bring that VK aesthetic into more "professional" standards.

 

Case in point:

 

I would agree that in terms of skill relating to professionalism or competence to write/perform music, its gotten better, and the resources available are utilized greatly by the new/young generation. However, the skill in terms of creativity/spontaneity/genuineness has/will always lessen, largely due to time/age. We all know that maturity tends to be the biggest killer when it comes to any form of expression that comes naturally, and VK can be considered it's own being that has begun to grow out of it's prime. It's a trade-off that occurs without our consent, but when utilized properly, gives birth to the next phase/trend/era of music. It's how we can identify sounds from certain periods from the same band over the course of 20+ years.

 

Reason why I don't like to discuss this is because we all say the same thing and are practically going in circles to reach the same point lol.

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I don't know if I agree with this, but I think it's an interesting point.

 

If I think back 10+ years ago to the forefront technical/fast players, I think of Versailles, Matenrou Opera, Deluhi. Go listen to Teru's earliest work with Aikaryu, Hizaki with Garnet grave in 1998 (let alone the Schwardix & Solo stuff), Anzi's old power metal band Masterpiece, and Leda's playing in Crimson Head. They were always shredders. Of course they improved with age, but they were always speed-geeks from the start.

 

Also, because visual kei musicians are almost always influenced by musicians in the global rock/metal world, I think its unfair to compare the 2000's with now. With the global waning of rock music from the 2000's to 2010's, a lot of this decade was defined by music with high technical merit. The icons of the early 2000's were often nu-metal bands with no guitar soloes like System of a Down, Disturbed, Slipknot and Linkin Park. Whereas in the early 2010's,  metal kids were getting excited about Animals as Leaders, Periphery, and 'djent'. Even now, a lot of the big NEW rock/metal bands of the 2010's are proggy shred bands (Polyphia, Intervals, Chon). There wasn't as much of an audience for those kind of bands in 2005. So it would make sense that visual kei in the 2010's has a higher skill level, because it reflects the global trends.

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17 hours ago, saiko said:

While I actually mourn over recent VK being in most cases uninspired, unskilled, etc.,  and wish they could someday bring us a new Malice Mizer or The Gazette, I find kind of problematic to consider that toxic relationships, power abuse, risky life-styles, social marginalization, internalized hate, cruelty, etc. is actually the key to deliver great and memorable art...

I think the play-it-safe approach of current VK acts who want to appeal to normal teenagers to get their parents coin quick does play a role, bc. the OG important artistés of this scene never really left, they just manage and produce dog in the PWO now.

 

I wish someone took a risk on a vk band and gave them same budgets Mana managed to cast for malice mizer at their peak. it would be interesting to see a well funded visual project doing something in the current scene, maybe they just lack the extra oomph from better promotion/production that is not trying to blend pop choreo and idol hoes and yesteryear's indie darlings into a dollar store BGM mess.

Edited by nekkichi

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16 minutes ago, nekkichi said:

think the play-it-safe approach of current VK acts who want to appeal to normal teenagers to get their parents coin quick does play a role, bc. the OG important artistés of this scene never really left, they just manage and produce dog in the PWO now.

This. Sometimes I feel that while we blame young bandoman for the current mess of the scene we forget who creates the projects they got involved with. This should be brought to discussion as well.

 

16 minutes ago, nekkichi said:

wish someone took a risk on a vk band and gave them same budgets Mana managed to cast for malice mizer at their peak. it would be interesting to see a well funded visual project doing something in the current scene, 

I think Kizu is very well funded. Sure they won't get as groundbreaking or influential as MM was, but I can't recall any indie band of the last 10 years that actually enjoyed THAT quality over playing skills, songwriting, costumes, music and pv recordings since day 1.

 

 

Edited by saiko

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I feel like alot of indies vk bands now making music that is more technical, complex and require a very high level of skill diminishes the uniqueness factors of each band. Atleast to me, you can only play so fast and technical before it all starts to sound similar. 
It's not the complexity that i find less appealing but rather how each band is competing to sound the heaviest, most technical, etc. Like yeah that one guy is a hell of a guitarist, but so is the other guy who shows the same high skills.

The older indies bands were more simple, they had less skillful players but their songwriting or just songs in general had a more personal side to it. It was naive but a naivety i could relate.  The sound was more authentic, a sound that i can't class under a single genre. 

 

But maybe it's not because  entirely of the higher competition nowadays, but rather the exposure to the popularity rise of djent/br00tal music from the west? And also the market and production of it has become more formulaic throughout the years compared to the 90s-00s bands. 
 

Edited by Neigedesmannes

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It's true, indies VK bands today play better than older bands, but their music lacks that spirit older bands have which made them stand out from the rest as a scene and musical option. To me, it doesn't matter how good today's VK bands can play; they neither feel nor sound VK anymore. I prefer the old essence over the skills of today.

Edited by seikun

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Part of the explanation could be that when VK was being heavily promoted, plenty of talentless fuckboys thought that it was the easy way to fame, so they aimed for that. Even when VK started falling out of favour, those guys were probably too invested to leave. Now that it’s been a full generation since the initial popularity, less of these guys are hanging around the scene.

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