Serani Poji

Readers of BBBD and acquaintances of mine will know that, while I might explore music with a commitment to genre agnosticism, I do have great affection for certain scenes, and the one that sits atop that small pile is Shibuya-kei. I came into it through the door Matador Records opened—and which my father directed me to—when it licensed the music of Cornelius and Pizzicato Five in the States. It represented the far away and exotic, but it also represented something that I could piece apart and eventually understand through study and observation, and it's for that reason I found myself so drawn to it. It could be something simultaneously all mine and mass-market.

Today, I want to point you in the direction of Seranji Poji (セラニポージ), a group that existed on the edge of the movement, not for want of attention, but because their angle of approach was a different kind of unusual. Both their first and second albums, Manamoon ‎and One-Room Survival, were produced by Yukihiro Fukutomi (福富 幸宏), a powerful presence in the world of Japanese house music whose star began to rise in the early 90s. With the notable exception of Towa Tei of Dee-Lite, most Shibuya-kei voices were first and foremost fixated on shepherding UK indie and intricate baroque pop into the homes of their countrymen, but that wasn't where Fukutomi's primary passion laid. As a result, the records he made with Serani Poji are clubbier, and some tracks are hard to classify under anything other than house.

Everything of theirs is so pristine and orderly that one begins to wonder if they weren't manufactured. Well, they were: they were concocted as an idol group in a bizarre Dreamcast game, Roommania #203, released in 2000. (You should read more about it, but this elevator-pitch sums it up nicely: "A game where you take control of god and play mind games on a Japanese schoolboy living alone in his apartment.") How they morphed into a real-world act that stayed at least somewhat active until the 2010s, I don't know, but I'm glad they did. Their music is a joy.

Hey, it looks like the game—and, by extension, the band—might be coming back.