This past April, Japan’s best-known and by far its longest-running shoegaze event, Total Feedback, celebrated its 10thanniversary. Since 2008, the event has been synonymous with the Japanese shoegaze scene, showcasing a combination of veteran and up-and-coming bands from all over Japan. In the spirit of promoting the current players in the scene, the show’s organizer and frontman of quintessential Japanese shoegazers Cruyff in the Bedroom, Yusuke Hata released the Total Feedback compilation on his Only Feedback label on October of the same year. This week, almost exactly 10 years later, a follow-up comp appropriately titled Total Feedback 2018 will go on sale.
Listening to the original 2008 comp, you can get a feel for where the shoegaze scene and specifically Total Feedback as an event were at the time. Bands like Luminous Orange, Plastic Girl In Closet, mash, and My Dead Girlfriend were all regular participants at the monthly shoegaze gathering – Luminous Orange and mash also frequently appeared at Yusuke’s Only Feedback event held at CLUB Que years earlier. Total Feedback 2018 is similarly a well-curated introduction to Japanese shoegaze in 2018, not only providing a good, albeit Tokyo-centric, introduction to Japanese shoegaze, but also showing how it’s branched out internationally over the past ten years.
Total Feedback 2018 is billed as “an Asian shoegaze compilation”, featuring a handful of bands from Taiwan (Doodle, U.TA, and DoZzz) and China (RUBUR). Based around Total Feedback and fellow Japan-based shoegaze event Kyoto Shoegazer, the domestic scene has crossed over with promoters such as Luuv Label (best-known for organizing the East Asia Shoegaze Festival in Shanghai) and Taiwanese shoegaze promoter extraordinaire Shoegazemania, creating a strong community on the eastern part of the continent (it’s worth noting that Hong Kong, while not represented on the compilation, has also been involved in this cultural shoegaze exchange).
The Japanese lineup on the compilation boasts a good mix of old and new bands. Cruyff in the Bedroom, broken little sister, and Lucy’s Drive are the veterans of the bunch, while groups like cattle, plant cell, and SPOOL, and Al Van She’s Coming represent the new wave of Total Feedback performers. Polarizing shoegaze idol group dots also have a song on the comp, and while their contribution to the overall scene may be questionable to some, they are without a doubt an important part of its story.
With regard to the music itself, Total Feedback 2018 is unsurprisingly strong start to finish. The Cruyff track is a banger, and the songs from plant cell, DoZzz, RUBUR, and Doodle are particular standouts. Cattle’s “Kaleidoscope” is a welcome return to shoegaze from a band who drifted to more of a power pop sound after an excellent debut EP. Even the dots track is perhaps their “gaziest” yet. Though you tend to hear quite different styles of shoegaze coming out of different countries – Japan tends to produce a more melody-heavy sound while you often get thicker or more textural shoegaze from Taiwan and China – the flow of the album is very smooth while still showcasing each band’s unique qualities.
Just as the Total Feedback event has been as important a part of the Japanese shoegaze scene as anything else over the past 10 years, Total Feedback 2018 and the original 2008 compilation act as significant snapshots of the genre’s development in Japan. The two compilations bookend a decade of change and development in the Japanese scene, while also representing the one event that has consistently remained as its core.
To celebrate the release there will be a three-leg Total Feedback event featuring bands appearing on the compilation, with the first show taking place in Taipei at PIPE on October 14th and the final two shows at Koenji HIGH on October 27th and 28th. See the flyer below for all of the details.
Here is the official trailer: