“Ikiru” (Tokyo Jihen)

Sheena Ringo has seemingly done it all. With each new track, she continues to challenge herself. Following her breakout solo career, she founded Tokyo Jihen, which operated on a similar wavelength as her previous material. The name might be different, but “Ikiru” is classic Ringo.

In Japanese, “Ikiru” mean “to live.” Judging by the vitality and drama of this song, it might very well be Ringo and her band’s definition of living.

The first half of this colossal song acts as an introduction. Here, Tokyo Jihen takes us through a slow-tempoed journey layered with vocal harmonies, oozing of James Bond-esque silkiness. By the time Ringo reaches the zenith of this extended prelude, she sounds exhausted and in need of a few oxygen reserves.

As the intro closes, the tempo increases and Ringo’s back at it.

Three and a half minutes in, she is wailing like the world depends on it. As her energy continues to build, the presence of guitarist Ichiyō Izawa increases, sounding like he’s closing in on Ringo. The second half of “Ikiru” peaks with a distorted guitar solo that brings to mind a dog trying to break free of its chains.

With seemingly nowhere else to ascend, the song ends. Take a breath, we made it through.

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