Concentric Circles • 1997

Nine dolls. The Gothic-Lolita’s snow-white skin shimmers in a woozy light. Their pictures adorn a website dedicated to the memory of Shizuka Miura. Before performing as a singer, the Japanese artist gained notoriety as a creator of ball-jointed dolls. In the beginning of the 90s, she met guitarist Maki Miura. They got married, founded a band, named it after Shizuka. Their most famous album hovers in-between Neo-Psychedelica, Folk and Noise Rock. Yet, the band recorded melancholic demos and live performances on the side. They gifted four cassettes to friends and acquaintances. »III« is the third of these tapes. Here, Miura’s sad voice accentuates playful guitars, not unlike Hako Yamasaki. The first four songs are ballads, soft like silk, accommodating in their structure. It is only the fifth track, a 19-minute duo by the Miuras, that breaks the mold. Shizuka’s voice floats through self-effacing improvisations. The result anticipates a surprising amount of recent Vocal-Ambient music, say Julianna Barwick or Hollie Kenniff. That alone makes »III« worth listening to. Yet, its charm – and the cross it must bear – lies in the D.I.Y.-recording. »III« hisses, clangors, and clips like a Punk demo. It resembles Miura’s dolls, forsaken, feckless and frail. Most will prefer newer toys. Yet, the ones willing to pick them up might find themselves enchanted by Miura’s artistry.