Zombie-Chang is the moniker of Tokyo-based singer/songwriter and electronic musician, Meirin. She has described her music as anti-folk and anti-EDM, though one can draw comparisons to modern electronic musicians that take inspiration from a multitude of genres, rap, pop, dance etc. At the same time, her work carries a very distinct Japanese sound and her vocal delivery fits perfectly will find favour with fans of the iconic Jun Togawa. Conversely, Meirin takes a playful approach to electronics that conjures up visions of early work from Susumu Hirasawa.
Having been active since 2013, the artists has shown continued improvement with each subsequent release, her most recent at time of writing this, “Take Me Away From Tokyo”, showing the performer have brought a lot of polish to her experimental tendencies. However, for me the best album in her discography comes from the 2018 release from Toothpaste Records, “Petit Petit Petit”.
Containing, what I would argue, is the three catchiest tracks that Zombie-chang has ever produced in; “Mona Lisa”, “Lemonade” and “We Should Kiss”. These tracks alone fit nicely on any playlist to have in rotation due to their energetic vibe. “Mona Lisa” and “Lemonade” both have a rock/pop vibe, but the vocals of Meirin shine in these tracks, capturing the playfulness of her delivery. Much like the aforementioned Jun Togawa, you could argue that the vocals are not ‘polished’ but there is an undeniable charm in the way Meirin’s boisterous personality seeps into every corner of the album is exuded. Though these two tracks exemplify the artists vocal abilities, the album is rife with notable tracks that highlight Meirin’s voice–“The Reason for Love” feeling pulled right out of the 90’s with a rocking vibe and accompanying ‘woos’.
Taking a different approach, “We Should Kiss” is a wonderfully upbeat dance numbers that uses sampling of Tokyo life–you will be surprised to find your body moving to the sound of a cross-walk warning alarm. Not just a danceable track, English speakers will find themselves singing along with the few English words spoken. If you are going to give any song on this album a spin, start with this one–it was my introduction to the artist and I think it perfectly summarizes the artists vocal and musical abilities.
The only shortcoming of “Petit Petit Petit” is in its relatively short length of just under half an hour, yet each track offers a unique experience as pacing and influences vary greatly between cuts.
Zombie-Chang is one of those artists not necessarily obscure in her native Japan, with “Mona Lisa” having proved to be a radio hit, yet the artist remains largely unknown outside of Japan. In General, pop music dominates the West’s interest in music from the east, whether it be k-pop or City Pop, there does not seem to be as much room for modern artists to find as much success in the west without going through corporate system or leaning on nostalgic sounds.
That said, Zombie-Chang is an ideal starting point to explore original, exciting music from Japan and “Petit Petit Petit” is such a wonderful eccentric mix of styles that makes it deserved of a larger audience.