11.5.20

Buck-Tickistan Stays Home

All right, enough with the metaphysics for now. What y'all really want to know is, what's going on in Buck-Tickistan? Are they under lockdown? Are they under military quarantine? Are there plague doctors with carts going around to collect bodies like in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? And is Imai secretly one of those plague doctors?

Well... not exactly. The Anarchic Republic of Buck-Tickistan has sealed its borders for the moment, and has reported zero cases of the virus to date. In a controversial recent report, Buck-Tickistani gossip tabloid The Hisashi Inquirer broke the news that all members of the Royal Court of Buck-Tickistan are apparently immune to the virus, due to the presence of a mysterious DNA sequence which the Inquirer speculates may be extraterrestrial in origin. The exact functions of this DNA are not currently known, but it appears to code for an entheogenic hormone dubbed DMT (Dank Musical Talent), which not only confers apparent immunity to coronavirus and the eponymous dank music talent, but also facilitates the ability to expand one's consciousness into astral realms in search of esoteric inspiration. As to why Buck-Tickistan has a royal court despite being an Anarchic Republic... the Royal Court styles themselves that way because they really like living in gothic castles full of ornate mirrors and chandeliers. And they have lots of admirers and really nice wardrobes, like Kate Middleton. 

In any case, the Buck-Tick members are fine. Staying home. Practicing new ways to use lipstick and hair dye, making banana juice cocktails, and working on the new album from home. This album has been going through some growing pains, and Mr. Sakurai reports that the pains are mostly due to Mr. Imai, but who knows. They say the new album will be the birth of a brand new Buck-Tick, and we have no reason to doubt them - they have always outdone themselves in the past. But if they're attempting to outdo a masterpiece like No. 0, growing pains aren't exactly surprising. If the album is released on schedule, it will be released this summer... but given the circumstances, don't bank on it. We're betting fall.

And yeah. The Fish Tanker's Only 2020 tour that was scheduled to begin on May 23rd has been postponed indefinitely, which is pretty much a given considering the circumstances. A concert hall pit squashed cheek by jowl with sweaty fangirls is about as socially un-distant as it's possible to get. Also, while Japan isn't on lockdown like some places, the government has ordered a state of emergency, and while essential businesses are still up and running, the clubs, concerts, and parties have all been canceled for the time being.

The band members have stated that they will wait and see about when to reschedule the tour dates, in order to make sure that they can safely hold the tour. We don't doubt that the tour will be rescheduled if possible, but even if the pandemic dies down soon and everything reopens quickly (dubious, considering that Japan's state of emergency is has been extended until the end of May), Buck-Tick have an album tour scheduled for fall, and given the amount of money and hassle involved in cancelling or rescheduling what is bound to be a national tour of 20 or more stops, it seems likely that they'll proceed with the album tour if at all possible, which means that the Fish Tanker's Only tour will have to come later - that is to say, winter 2021 at the earliest. But given that all bands have had to reschedule their tours and everything's up in the air now, there's bound to be a scramble for venue bookings, so it's possible that the FT Only 2020 tour might have to wait till spring 2021, or even fall - if the Olympics happen in 2021, summer is unlikely. However, nobody knows what will happen at this point.

Here are the messages from the band members regarding the cancellation of the tour:

Sakurai: How are you doing? Thank you as always. We know you were looking forward to our live house tour, but unfortunately, it has been postponed. However, this will help prevent the fans, staff members, and band members from being infected, so honestly, we're also relieved. 

First, I assume that there are at least a few health care workers among our fans. I would like to extend my respect to you who are working on the front lines to prevent further spread of the virus. My applause to you.

Starting in April, we suspended recording, but the band members are doing what they can from home. Please, all of you, take care of yourselves. And to protect your beloved families, friends, lovers, and cats, stay home! The band members and the staff thank you for your help and cooperation.

The rain will stop. The cherry blossoms will bloom. We will meet again. For sure. Until then, stay healthy.

April 13th
Buck-Tick
Sakurai Atsushi


Imai: We're making cool songs, so you've got a lot to look forward to ~~
I can't wait to have a blast with you at a live show ~~♪ PEACE!

Hide: Let's meet again for sure, with smiles on our faces!

Yutaka: The Fish Tanker's and Love & Media Portable Only lives have been postponed. We would like to postpone the tour until the problem of the novel coronavirus is solved, and we can safely enjoy playing live with you all, so just wait until then, okay?

Toll: Unfortunately, due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, we've postponed the Fish Tanker's and Love & Media Portable lives, for the safety of the fans. However, we promise that the next time we meet, we'll show you a powerful new version of Buck-Tick, so please wait for a bit. Thanks for supporting us!

Buck-Tick / Drums
Yagami Toll

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Yeah, it's old news now, and we apologize not reporting on it in a more timely fashion (we will try to get back on top of the news going forward). To make up for the postponed tour, Buck-Tick's YouTube channel is holding a weekly event called Buck-Tick Saturday Live Streaming. Every Saturday until June 13th, at 9PM Japan time, Buck-Tick's YouTube channel will stream one of Buck-Tick's concert videos. All the concerts to be streamed have already been released on DVD, but this is a nice opportunity for those of you who don't own the DVDs, and those of you who'd like to join in a socially distant international internet Buck-Tickathon. The first stream, held on May 2nd, was the Sabbat concert from 1989, while the second stream, held on May 9th, was the 1992 Climax Together. The upcoming streams are as follows:

May 16th: Atom Miraiha No. 9 Tour Final (December 29th, 2016)

May 23rd: The Parade 30th Anniversary ~High Side~ (September 24th, 2017)

May 30th: The Day in Question 2017 Day 2 (December 29th, 2017)

June 6th: Tour No. 0 at Kokusai Forum Hall A (July 26th, 2018)

June 13th: Locus Solus Bestia Day 2 (May 26th, 2019)

Nico Video also held a Buck-Tick live stream event over Japan's Golden Week holidays, featuring reruns of Buck-Tick concerts which were originally broadcast live on Nico Video. However, since this event is already over, it seems pointless to report on it (sorry for not staying on top of the game.)

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In addition to Buck-Tick's Fish Tank tour being postponed, three concerts at which the Higuchi brothers were scheduled to appear as guests were also postponed. Yutaka was scheduled to perform on February 29th at Akasaka Blitz, at a show honoring deceased actor Harada Yoshio, while Toll and Yutaka both were scheduled to perform on March 3rd at Shimokitazawa Garden, at a show celebrating the 50th birthday of Harada Kenta, who has played guitar and done vocals for Toll's band Yagami Toll & Blue Sky. Toll was also scheduled to perform at Garden on April 28th, at a show celebrating the birthday of Kaname, who has played bass and done vocals for Yagami Toll & Blue Sky. All the shows have been postponed indefinitely pending further pandemical developments.

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Another Buck-Tick endeavor which has been postponed due to the pandemic is Buck-Tick's collaboration with their hometown of Fujioka, Gunma prefecture. For those of you who don't already know, the Buck-Tick members all grew up in the same small town: Fujioka, a short but very infrequent train ride away from Takasaki, one of Gunma's only real cities. Fujioka is so rural that the train station is nothing but a small shack in the middle of the farm fields, so naturally, Buck-Tick are massive hometown celebrities - Fujioka cab drivers even make a certain amount of money off fans who visit Fujioka for the "Buck-Tick tour" of spots the band members frequented when they were young. Now, Fujioka has decided to literally cement Buck-Tick's local fame by installing a cement block with the band members' hand prints, as well as at least one Buck-Tick themed manhole cover, and a Buck-Tick commemorative flower bed in front of Fujioka High School (now Fujioka City General Learning Center), the band members' alma mater.

In tandem with this, there's going to be a Buck-Tick billboard in front of Fujioka station (for a limited time only), and a screening of Buck-Tick: The Movie in the large hall at Mikabo Miraikan, a municipal community center.

Who knows when it will happen, now, but let's focus on the positive here: Buck-Tick's hometown is commemorating the band! Official hometown heroes in perpetuity! That's awesome! More fun things to visit next time you make a trek to Imai Shoten. (For those of you who don't know, Imai Shoten is the Imai family business, and the place where the idea for the band was born. They welcome fan visits. Which reminds us, we never posted that story about our visit to Imai Shoten... stay tuned!)

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Postponed, postponed, postponed... this spring has nothing but a series of sad trombones, it seems. But what's the best thing to keep yourself amused and the economy going while remaining socially distance? Shopping for lounge clothes online, of course! And Imai Hisashi has an answer for you on that one. Music-themed apparel brand Amplifier, which previously released various t-shirts featuring photos of Mr. Imai has released a brand new Imai Hisashi hoodie, for the low, low price of only 14,800 yen, excluding tax. So if you're one of those people who still has a job, here's a new candidate for your "being a couch potato is now patriotic" lockdown life wardrobe. All the better if you wear this hoodie without putting on any pants.



But the REAL treasure, friends, is THIS:




What is this, you ask? Why, it's a 24 centimeter tall 10,000 yen collectible vinyl Imai Hisashi doll, and a very terrifying yellow eyeless Imai Hisashi head, to be released in June (probably). What do you think, folks? In a cage fight between ImaiDoll and Sakurai Sphinx Sexmonster Fucky Lucky Cat, who would win? Place your bets in the comments below.


(Sakurai Sphinx Sexmonster Fucky Lucky Cat: "Remember me?" *wink*)

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...But that's not all! Gain Tokyo, a new clothing brand about which next to nothing is known at the moment, has announced that they will be releasing a t-shirt featuring an illustration of the Buck-Tick members by cult rock manga artist hero Kamijo Atsushi, author of the manga To-y and Sex. Kamijo's work has been beloved since the 80's by rock and alternative types in Japan, yet oddly, it never seems to have made its way overseas. But if anyone wants to pay us to translate it, we gladly will. Kamijo's art is gorgeous, and well suited to Buck-Tickistan, as we can see:


(This is supposedly not a drawing of Mr. Sakurai, but of the main character from the manga Youkai Hunter. And Imai didn't steal the title of Mona Lisa Overdrive from the 1988 novel by William Gibson.)

For further information, follow Gain Tokyo on Twitter.

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Once again, thank y'all for bearing with us and our sporadic blogging. We hope to post more content soon. In the meantime, keep enjoying life. There's no time like the present to turn off the news, turn up the Buck-Tick, and dance without pants!

1.5.20

The Year the Earth Stood Still

Hey, folks! Doesn't time seem to be flying by these days? We notice that our last post was on February 1st... we're so sorry for not keeping up better with the blogging, but thank all of you who continue to support us, on Ko-Fi and via email. While we are much closer to being fully recovered than we were, we're still far below our normal energy levels, and unfortunately, writing has been a little too much for us to handle. 

And now, just as we're recovering, it's the rest of the world who's sick. We'll get to the Buck-Tick updates in a minute. For now, we'd like to do something else, and share some more personal thoughts on the global pandemic, regarding humanity, and humanity's relationship with Planet Earth. This may be unusual for us, but due to our own illness we've been thinking a great deal about these issues since long before the pandemic started, and watching the panic drifting through the air like a plague in itself, we feel compelled to share. 

We, Cayce, have been sick for a year and eight months now. For much of that time, we were more or less incapacitated. Up till we got sick, we were always the type to be constantly on the move, working on lots of projects at once, burning the candle at both ends, and feeling perpetually annoyed with ourselves for not managing to accomplish as much in a given time as we'd hoped. We were always pushing ourselves to be more productive, holding ourselves to higher and higher standards, and beating ourselves up for being lazy when we were lazy. To be forced off our work and project schedule by a mere illness... it was unacceptable! Nothing was going to get done on time! Surely, our life was going to fall apart!

In fact, our life did fall apart, in a way. The body our non-corporeal essence uses as its avatar in this dimension fell apart pretty spectacularly. We were unable to work, and we had to put most of our precious projects on hold. We struggled through a lot of physical pain, anxiety, and uncertainty. But at the same time... things were totally okay. Friends and family gave us love and support when we needed it the most. We found sources of healing in surprising places. In the midst of our suffering, we experienced a great deal of unexpected moments of beauty and awe.

We've always believed that everything in life is a lesson, but still, this illness was so brutal that for quite a while it was hard to see the lesson. And then, at last, at our very lowest point, when we were at our weakest and the pain was the very worst, we saw it. It unfolded, flower-like, through our awareness, like a message from the voice of the Universe.

"You've been so attached to the role you've been playing that you've forgotten it's only a role," the voice said. "You work and work and strive and strive, set yourself tough deadlines and beat yourself up for not meeting them, in order to maintain the image you've constructed of how you want to appear in the world. You were afraid that if you couldn't maintain that image, the people in your life would judge you, desert you, not love you anymore. This illness has made it impossible for you to maintain that image any longer... but see how you're still you? Anyone who would desert you in your time of weakness doesn't love you and never has. They just love the image of you. Let those people go.

"You feel you have to be strong all the time because you fear that to be weak is an imposition on others. But love works both ways. You care for your loved ones in their weakness. Now you must let them care for you in yours. When you are weak and vulnerable, it gives others an even bigger opportunity to express their love. Give them that opportunity, and accept the love they offer. You want to love others unconditionally, but for that, you must also be able to love yourself unconditionally. Unconditional: no conditions. In health and in sickness, for richer and for poorer. Whether or not you look sleek and healthy or emaciated and ill. Whether or not you can strive and achieve. For who you are, not what you do.

"The image you tried to maintain was ego. Ego sits like a wall between this back-and-forth, in-and-out exchange of love, preventing others from seeing and loving the real you. Ego is the desire for control.

"The lesson in this illness is, let go of image, let go of ego. Be who you are, in this moment, authentically and totally, openly and honestly. You need not strive to become more. You are already enough. Give up trying to control. Control is an illusion. Give up trying to control the timeline. Stop regretting that things didn't go the way they were 'supposed' to go. Stop punishing yourself for 'not being on schedule' due to being weak and ill. 

"If you can't be compassionate to yourself, how can you be compassionate to others? You must learn to forgive yourself as much as you forgive the people you love. If you are always chasing after love, how can love find you? Sit and wait, and let the love come to you. Sit and wait, and see what happens."

It was a hard lesson to swallow, at first. One of the hardest we've ever had to learn, but also one of the most valuable. We'd been trying vainly to cling to some sense of normacly, pushing ourselves to still engage in our usual activities, working, going to Buck-Tick shows... but now the Buck-Tick tour was postponed (due to Mr. Sakurai's own illness), and we had to admit defeat. We were too ill to do anything anymore. We went on medical leave from our clients and sank into the life of an invalid. We accepted that it was going to take a lot more time for us to recover, and we just let go and let it happen.

For a while, we were so sick, we lost all sense of identity. The image or role the voice spoke of was completely gone. In spiritual terms, this kind of experience is often called "ego death." But that, too, was okay. Identity or not, we were still here. Gradually, we healed. 

As we returned to the world of light and life (slowly, painfully, gradually), we realized our perspective had completely changed. The deadlines and plans had all been postponed, so what? When we were ready to, when we were well again, we could still do all the projects. We floated through the hustle and bustle of the Tokyo crowds, remembering how we used to be caught up in all that, too - always worrying about time, always rushing, out of sync with the rhythm of the Universe, and tripping over our feet.

The thing is, it's only human beings that try to move outside of the rhythm of the Universe. We never get angry at our cats for being lazy. Why are we so hard on ourselves and each other?

Breathe in, breathe out. Things take the time they take. We started to listen for that Universal heartbeat, and we heard it. We started to move in time with its music, and amazing things began to happen. Lights would turn green for us as we walked down the street, right on cue. We had all kinds of chance meetings with friends, new and old. Circumstances started to align through miraculous-seeming coincidences. New opportunities began opening up. As soon as we started to go with the flow, rather than swim against the current, it really was smooth sailing.

And then, we started to realize that the lesson we'd been given in our illness wasn't just about us and our small existence, but also about Planet Earth and human society at this pivotal moment in history.

Control, and time. Image, ego, and the dual/nondual nature of love. 

Global society has been dominated by the obsession with controlling everything: life hacks, job hacks, health hacks, productivity upgrades, quarterly statements. Everyone's impatient for results, results, results! And we're obsessed with time - being on it, having enough of it... despite the fact that the time on the clock is a very recent invention and before electricity, human life, too, moved at the pace of night and day, and the pace of the seasons. How is it than in a little over a hundred years, the phrase "you're late" came to ruin everyone's lives? Late to class, late to work, missed your deadline... you fail, you're fired, you failure as a human you! So you'd rather be smelling the flowers or looking at the sky? So there's a blizzard or a typhoon in the way? Don't care. Fuck Mother Nature, and fuck you.

The thing is, the fact that human society has been making such a concerted effort to fuck Mother Nature (or fuck her over, more like) has made it abundantly clear that 1) control is an illusion and 2) Mother Nature's time is our time, too. Our obsession with so-called "productivity" has led us to trashing our environment and steamrolling over the most important part of life: living. Global capitalism always demands more, more, more - and we keep on destroying and destroying in service of that greed. But the climate is changing. The ice caps are melting. Extreme storms and wildfires are raging. We don't control nature. We live within nature.

But we've let Nature come to seem like the enemy, because caught in that rat race hamster wheel, people so rarely take the time to appreciate what they have. Worrying constantly about the next deadline and the next quarter's results, so many of us fail to ever appreciate the now while we're in it. And then it's gone, and we realize only too late how much it meant to us, and we sit around regretting the past - still failing to appreciate the now. We tie ourselves up in knots over perceived past failures and perceived future stresses, down and down a vicious spiral of anxiety, guilt, shame, fear, and panic. And all because we've been taught that we're not valuable for who we are, only for what we do. That if we don't achieve, and achieve on time, we're worthless.

We, Cayce, have a friend who likes to berate her fat, lazy, adorable fluffball cat. "Get a job, Toby!" she says. "Start pulling your weight around here." Toby would flop over and go to sleep, and the two of us would laugh and laugh. Why are our standards for cats and humans so different?

It has something to do with ego - wanting to be perceived a certain way, wanting to be seen as "better" in some way. Striving for external acceptance or praise based on someone else's standards. But this struggle is endless and unfailingly unsatisfying. The richest men on earth seem to be among the most dissatisfied - always seeking more, more, more, and destroying the planet in the process.

Where does this dissatisfaction come from? Ego. Self-hatred, based in fear. Fear of not being enough. Not being the "right" way, by someone else's standard. Need to fill that void of self-hatred with external validation. But like the voice told us: how can you love others if you can't love yourself? No one else can fill the hole within you, not until you realize that there is no hole.

Too often, people are valued only for what they do or accomplish, but like the Dalai Lama said, "we are human beings, not human doings." Being weak, being sick - it doesn't make you less worthy as a human. Even if you are not "producing," you are experiencing. That's the meaning of life. To experience. To live. Conscious experience is the experience of the present moment. The present moment is all we have.

Mother Nature's time is the unfolding of experience. A seed falls, sprouts, grows leaves, buds, flowers, fruits. It happens at the right time, and it takes the time it takes. The cherry trees bloom in the spring, and the apples ripen in the fall. What kind of doofus would scream at an apple seedling in May, "not enough apples this quarter!" What kind of doofus would ask a woman three months' pregnant why she hasn't given birth yet? It's not a race to a goal. Each step in the process reveals something new and beautiful - the moment the first little greet shoot pokes out of the soil, the moment when the tiny leaves open up, the moment when the tiny buds appear on the stems, the slow unfolding of the flower, the swelling of the fruit - and then, yes, of course, the harvest. But it is each moment in the whole cycle that holds the meaning, and the beauty.  

When you get so sick that you're not capable of doing anything, but simply being... you remember that you are a part of nature and a part of this cycle. Healing doesn't happen instantaneously. Healing happens in its own time, and it's not a time you can control through force of will. Sometimes, all you can do is keep breathing. And as you breathe, you start to feel your life in a whole new way. 

You've faced your own frailty. You lose the illusion of control. But you see that despite this, life goes on! The sun comes up in the morning and sets in the evening. Fall turns to winter turns to spring. The earth turns, the stars wheel, the planets track their paths across the sky. You realize, far from not having enough time, you have all the time in the world, in each moment.

Maybe y'all thought this post has nothing to do with Buck-Tick, but it does. This appreciation of the present moment and living in the rhythm of nature is a huge theme in Buck-Tick's work. Sakurai conveys it perfectly in "Yumemiru Uchuu," with the lines:

For an instant
Or forever
Driven wild
We are...

Turning and turning, turning
Waltz of the night, and the moon
Rapt in dreaming space

"Bi Universe" is another wonderful song on this theme. So is "Rondo."

It's also at the ancient foundation of Eastern spirituality, expressed in Japan through Buddhism. At the entrance to Japanese temples stand two gate guardians: "Ah" on the right, and "Un" on the left (these Ah-Un are usually statues of lions, foxes, or dogs, but they come in many other forms, too.) The Ah on the right symbolizes yang, prana, the Divine Masculine, alpha, initiation, like the Magician card in the tarot (manipulation of the elements by exercising the will, archetypal masculine control as symbolized by the phallic magic wand). The Un on the left symbolizes yin, akasha, the Divine Feminine, omega, receptivity, like the World/Universe card in the tarot (the womblike void in which lies the totality of the universe, the completion of a cycle, forming the number zero, to begin a new cycle). 

Together, they represent inhalation and exhalation - the breathing state of meditation which allows these energies to flow through human consciousness. The Ah is depicted with mouth open, speaking, "Ah." The Un is depicted with mouth closed, responding with "Un" (an affirmation: "I am listening.") Join the two syllables, and you get "Om," the ancient Indian mantra to awaken the third eye, the gateway to higher consciousness. The Un also often holds a baby, symbolizing birth (the feminine receives the masculine and conceives new life), while the Ah often holds a Flower of Life globe, symbolizing the oneness of all things. (You can see both the baby and the Flower of Life globe in the photo below.)

In Japanese, an "Ah-Un kankei," or "Ah-Un relationship," refers to the kind of deeply balanced, harmonious relationship where people hardly need to even use words to communicate because they're so much on the same wavelength, they can practically get by with telepathy alone. This is the duality/nonduality of love. To have either, one must have both. Giving and receiving. They cannot be separated, for each defines the other. (Another huge Buck-Tick theme, but we already wrote about that in our last article so we'll leave it for now.)


One thing we'd like to point out again is that in this gender-obsessed age, people lose track of the fact that in the context of spirituality and metaphysics, "masculine" and "feminine" have nothing to do with physical sex or gender identity. Rather, masculine and feminine are the qualities of energy embodied by the Ah and the Un. Everyone of every gender contains these energies. They often get misrepresented in the West as "active" (masculine) vs. "passive" (feminine), but a better way to describe them would be active vs. receptive. Feminine listens. Feminine receives. Feminine accepts. The fact that these feminine aspects are considered lesser in society today is a mark of the sickness in society.

For the body and spirit to flower, these qualities must be in balance, at every level. In every person, and in society as a whole. But that's not how things are today. The masculine is praised and the feminine is demonized. This can be seen not only in the physical oppression of women - everything from rape, domestic violence and human trafficking, to women not being taken seriously by health care professionals, women not receiving equal pay for equal work, devaluing of unpaid labor usually performed by women (housekeeping, childcare, etc.), but also in the way that jobs historically performed by women often pay less and are seen as lesser whether it's men or women who are doing them (caregiving, teaching, and service roles especially). It's all over the workplace - macho, aggressive bullies get promotions. Workers are often prevented from taking time off for illness or to care for family members, or they are seen as weak for doing so. Men are shunned for trying to take paternity leave. In queer communities, this demonization of the Divine Feminine can be seen in femmephobia and violence against trans women. In fashion, it can be seen in the way in which, while women who take on masculine styles are often praised as "badass," men who take on feminine styles are still viciously attacked (women wear pants as if it's the most normal thing in the world, but it's still unusual to see a man in a dress unless he's a drag queen... why?) Boys are taught that expressing emotion is weakness, that everything associated with the feminine is unmanly and should be avoided. Girls are taught that their value in the world is contingent on the services they perform for others, and get called selfish if they choose to serve their own needs and defend their boundaries.

The list is endless. 

But in a greater sense, this demonization of the Divine Feminine manifests in our destruction of nature in the name of capitalist greed. Mother Nature. Mother Earth. Earth, giver of life, has been seen as feminine since the dawn of humanity. Now, wherever you turn, people are cutting down trees and destroying wild places as if they absolutely hate the earth, and hate nature. But we need to build this development! We need to build this strip mall, this factory! We need profit for our shareholders!

This is the Divine Masculine out of control. Out-of-control growth. You know what that is, kids. It's a cancer. Or, well, a virus. (We take no credit for the originality of this idea. Agent Smith said it long before we did.)

We are not separate from nature, we ARE nature. Destroying nature is every bit as much murder as killing a human being. And it is suicide as well, because we humans are not the individuals we think we are. Earth is a super-organism, and all the life forms on Earth are like cells in the body of this super-organism. 

As a matter of fact, human beings are also super-organisms. About 90% of the cells in a human body aren't human cells - they are symbiotic bacteria, found mainly in the digestive tract, and without those symbiotic bacteria, you not only wouldn't be able to digest your food, you wouldn't be able to live at all. You'd be dead. Over the past few decades, there's been more and more research on this "microbiome," and the ways in which lack of biodiversity, or lack of balance in species, can have catastrophic effects on the health of the whole human. Also, on the ways in which healing this microbiome can have drastic healing effects on the whole human.

We are all like tiny planets on this one big planet. The macro is reflected in the micro. The branching bronchioles in our lungs are the same fractal shape as the branches of a tree, or a bolt of lightning. The logarithmic spiral of the seashell and the sunflower is the same spiral as the human fetus and the Milky Way. These correspondences are everywhere - the entire universe is made of them. The five Platonic solids embedded within the geometry of the Flower of Life describe the geometry of the entire universe, from the structure of molecules to the structure of galaxies (if you want to know more about this, look up "sacred geometry" and prepare to have your mind blown.) This is the true meaning of the Holographic Principle - each dimension is a reflection, or hologram, of a higher dimension. This is the meaning of the Pagan wisdom, "As above, so below, as within, so without."

Flower of Life with Metatron Cube

Metatron Cube with Platonic solids

But when we're out of balance towards the masculine, we lose touch with this. The "Ah" is always speaking... but let me ask you this. Two people meet each other, and talk. One does all the talking. The other does all the listening. When they part, which person walks away with more than what they had before? The listener, right? Without the speaker, there would be nothing to listen to... but if you're too busy talking to ever listen, how can you ever learn, grow, or be inspired? 

Creative artists, scientists, and inventors alike all know that the best inspirations usually come in the spaces in between - riding the train, sitting in the bath, going for a walk, doing some meditative slow-food cooking, getting up to pee in the middle of the night, or just zoning out. Everyone loves talking about meditation these days, but all meditation really amounts to is "just zoning out." Taking the time to stop. To breathe. To be. Then bam! Epiphany! Inspiration! Be the Un. Make yourself feminine. Be a receptive, empty vessel, and the Universe will come along and fill you with new insight and new wisdom.  

So... where are we going with all this?

The pandemic, of course.

Just like lil' Cayce here, the whole out-of-control, desperately striving world has been forced by illness into a standstill.

But there's so much fear. So much panic. So much blame.

Since long before the pandemic started, people around the world were pointing out that we're living in increasingly polarized times - everyone speaking, no one listening. On the right, there's been a rise in ethno-nationalist politics around the world, based largely around fear, fear of being swallowed up by the demonized Other. (They'll take your jobs, they'll take your culture, build a wall, blah, blah.) Telling lies, refusing to hear the other sides of the story (the side of the migrants, the low-wage workers, the racial and ethnic minorities). That bit's easy to see.

On the other hand, on the left, there's been a rise in "call out culture," based largely around the comfort of self-righteousness in the face of a growing sense of powerlessness. Public shaming campaigns on Twitter against people who use words perceived as "problematic" are on the same continuum as lynch mobs. This kind of call-out culture stifles freedom by making people too scared to express themselves. Making long lists of things no one is allowed to say precludes the possibility of conversation. Shouting down people for not knowing the right word, or understanding the nuances of difficult ethnographic, socioeconomic, etc. issues doesn't promote education, understanding, or a shift in mindset. It's its own form of bullying - make the one doing the calling out feel superior, making the called out feel angry, embarrassed and small.

All talk. No listening. Building a sense of fear, of constantly being attacked and under threat. We're not a big Star Wars fan, but "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." Yeah, that's true.

The world is now saturated on media, and the media thrives on fear. Fear is addictive. It's a rush, like a drug. Keep watching, keep clicking for the latest news. Oh no, more bad news! Keep watching, keep clicking! The death rate may be lower than first thought, but that's bad news because it means MORE infections! Young people, don't think you'll be safe, you might die of a STROKE! Don't cuddle your kitty for comfort, turns out cats might carry CORONAVIRUS!!! Oh my god, we're all gonna die!!!! Better buy some more toilet paper!!!!! (And don't you DARE joke about this. You're not taking this SERIOUSLY!!!!!111 PEOPLE ARE DYING!!!!!!)

Spoiler alert: we're all gonna die. Guys, you knew that already. Stop acting like it's news. Let's step back for a minute and take a deep breath. Ah and un. 

This kind of fear-based media has been around for as long as news has been around. We're all so used to it that we've been brainwashed into believing that feeling really bad about scary world events is somehow virtuous. Reading about scary, terrible things happening tends to make you feel powerless. But hey, if I feel concerned enough, will it help things? By feeling really bad, aren't I doing my duty as a Person Who Cares? Doesn't the fact that I'm sufficiently afraid make me better prepared for the worst?

No, friends. No it does not. We've received many, many letters from y'all readers over the years, and many of you have written about your struggles with anxiety and depression. We've struggled with anxiety and depression ourselves, so we also understand this firsthand. When you feel so depressed you can't get out of bed in the morning, and all your creative juices and ability to enjoy life seem to have been sucked away, who is that helping? No one. It's not helping you, and neither is it helping your concerned family and friends. And when you're having a panic attack, do those feelings you feel in the midst of the attack, like the walls are closing in, or you're having a heart attack, or some nameless terrible thing is about to swallow you whole - are those feelings in any way a reflection of external reality? No. Those are symptoms of fear attacking you.

Feeling bad about bad news is a natural response - which is why you shouldn't wallow in bad news! When you're wandering around mired in bad feelings, you are living less. You are out of the flow of the rhythm of the universe. You forget to appreciate, baby, the beauty and the joy of the here and now, whatever it may be - a flower, a good cup of coffee, a silly cat meme.

As for fear, Frank Herbert, author of Dune, said it a lot better than we did in the Litany Against Fear.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death which brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone I will turn my head to see Fear's path.
Where Fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

If you feel really freaked out, try speaking this litany out loud. It helps! (But don't take our word for it, try it.)

As for panic, Douglas Adams said it best, in large, friendly letters. DON'T PANIC.

The news is carefully crafted to make you feel as sad and scared as possible, but only to make you easier to control. Scared people are easy to control because they're willing to do anything to make the fear go away. They give up their rights, they do nonsensical things like hoard toilet paper, and they don't treat others well because they have a scarcity mentality. Harassing others because "they might have the coronavirus." Hoarding masks so there aren't enough for health-care workers. Berating others online for not being "frightened enough." Fear is the mind-killer.

What are you actually supposed to do in a crisis? Keep a cool head. Panic, fear, and worry accomplish nothing. They save no lives, develop no vaccines, provide no aid to the struggling unemployed. What panic, fear and worry DO do: raise your body's stress response, thereby lowering your immune response, making it more likely that you will get sick. No matter how bad things get, panic will never solve anything, it will only make things worse. Survivors are the people who take things as they come and do what needs to be done, with cool heads.

Meanwhile, if you're so busy trying to feel bad about the entire world that you feel like shit all day, you're not effectively able to enjoy whatever amount of this life you have left (because, spoiler alert: it has always been true that any of us could die at any time. Remember Memento Mori?) If you're sitting around feeling bad all day, you're also not as capable of expressing your unique gifts and talents to create positive change in the world, which is what you're supposed to be doing.

Think that it's unfair to feel happiness and joy when others are suffering? No, it is not! Life is made of both suffering and joy. There is always someone out there who's suffering. There always has been. Does that mean all the happiness and joy you ever felt were unfair? No! Love and joy are what give life meaning, and they are limitless. By all means, try to alleviate the suffering of others where you can. But never let anyone guilt you out of your love and your joy.

Sakurai addresses this in the lyrics to "Foolish":

What is it like, from over there?  
Is it deep darkness?
What can you see from over there?  
Is it love and joy?

There will be no salvation
Is it deep darkness?
I’m just living now
In love and joy

We are so bound by our transactional, capitalist understanding of the world that we've come to believe we have to pay an equal price of sadness or pain for our love and our joy, but we don't. You can be as happy as you want to be, at any time. The things to be happy about are limitless. Kittens. Flowers. That cat with the sexy legs from Nyanko Daisenkyou! Imai on Instagram wearing a plague mask, playing guitar! That clip from At the Night Side of Hide falling off the stage - perfect thing to watch on repeat as you shelter in place!

And as for love, we probably don't need to explain to y'all Buck-Tick fans how it's possible to love the same five people more and more every day and still have love to spare (shucks that's so sweet our teeth are rotting. Thanks, Hide!)

We are not trying to deny that this pandemic is causing very real pain. Our heart goes out to all of you - sick people, people with sick loved ones, people who've lost loved ones, people who've lost their jobs, people cooped up at home with family members they don't get along with, and of course, all the workers who are busting their butts and risking their lives and getting nowhere near the hazard pay they deserve. And, y'know, the morticians. Really puts the graveyard in "graveyard smash"! Hang in there, guys. We could never do what you do. Respect. 

But at the same time, we hope and believe that the unfolding outcomes of this will end up being for the greater good. Most of us (here on Planet Earth) have known for a long time that society as it was was not working, but on a global scale we (humanity) weren't able to step up and make the necessary change. Very quickly, this pandemic has exposed in a new way many aspects of society that aren't working, from supply lines to pandemic contingency plans to sick leave to the devaluing of service workers to the dangers of misinformation (and many other issues too numerous to list). Raising these issues into mainstream consciousness creates an opening for change. At the same time, the effect of the global shutdown on the natural environment has been stunning to witness. It needs to be witnessed more. How beautifully Earth breathes when humanity stands still!

Being afraid accomplishes nothing. Feeling bad accomplishes nothing. Don't feel like you have to take on the burden of the whole world all by yourself. Superhero stories are fun, but they can also promote another toxic idea that's all over mass media - the idea that one person can save the world.

We're a superorganism, remember? Cells in the body of Gaia. No one cell does anything alone. Your immune system alone is composed of dozens of different types of cells, each specialized for a specific function. Your whole body is the same. Which of your organs is the best? Which is the most important? What is a brain with no heart? Lungs with no liver? Intestines with no kidneys? Each cell on its own might not seem that important. If it dies, other cells will take its place. But on a whole body level, you need all those cells and all those organs. Without each one of those vital organs, you die.

Asking "which organ is the best?" or "which organ is the most important" - that's the kind of question the ego asks. But it's a fundamentally ridiculous question. What's the best color of the rainbow? Without all the colors, it wouldn't be a rainbow, right?

Accordingly, you, as a human being, must live and act on a human scale. You are not super human. You can't be a superhero, so don't waste your time trying to be one. It is your immediate, moment to moment life that you should focus on. Do what you can, when you can, to the extent that you can. Do not be swept away by fear-mongering news or wild-eyed predictions about the future. Instead, take this unprecedented moment of stillness to be still. Be. Still. Still alive. Still being. Being in stillness. Enjoy the silence. Experience the now. Notice. Observe. The unfolding of nature, and the unfolding of yourself, within you. Let go of images and expectations. Find that you who remains even when ego-you deserts. You are not your roles or attachments or anything you have done. You are what you are. This moment of stillness is a gift. Savor it. Cherish it. See what happens when you give up trying to control, and start drifting in the flow. 

Find your way back to your connection with Mother Earth, with Mother Nature. And if you can possibly find a way to do so, go outside, and spend time in nature. Every day, if you can. Please observe social distancing, but for the love of fuck, go outside! You may be isolated from other humans but you are never isolated from nature. Fill yourself up with the beauty of the season. Smell the flowers, touch the leaves, watch the insects, gaze at the clouds. Go out at night and look at the stars. Be feminine. Be receptive. Listen. Breathe. Do what brings you joy, offline, if possible. Read a book, exercise, cook, take a bath, pet a cat, listen to music, play music, make art - whatever you can, embody physical space. Embody your physical being. Be here, now. Don't worry about the future. Now is all there is.

The thing is, we are all connected. That comes with being part of a super-organism. (Btw if you're into science and you want to look into this further from a sciency perspective, check out the work of Lynn Margulis, Rupert Sheldrake, and Bruce Lipton, for a start.) If you want to do something to help the rest of the world, but you feel powerless because you're just one small human... there is still something you can do: send your love! Have patience with people who are still struggling with panic. Don't judge or condemn others. Don't pile on the Shame and Blame Train. This situation is difficult for everyone. You don't know what others are going through or how things look to them, so don't snipe at people. Don't gripe on social media. Leave those other people be. Just let them do their thing. You can't change them even if you wish you could. Instead, focus on centering yourself. Breathe in. Breathe out. Remember beauty and joy. And send your love

Remember, if you're on Blog-Tick, that means you're a member of the Barairo Juujidan

Tell a story of love, yeah
Even dripping in blood oh
Tell a story of dreams, yeah
You are a rose yourself
Ah, a blood red rose

This life is full of crosses to bear, but your heart is a rose. Now visualize that rose opening, unfurling, blooming as the most vividly colored, fragrant, perfect rose you've ever seen. That's you! Only you. Now visualize a rainbow of light, pulsing within that rose, to the beat of your heart. Slowly, the light spreads outwards, bathing all the people you love in its glow, shooting downward into the center of the earth, and upward into the heavens, growing brighter and brighter. You are held by the earth, and loved by the universe. You have the life force of the earth and the universe within you. Send it outward, around the globe, and visualize a better future. Healing society, healing illness, healing our wounds, healing our relationship with the earth. Each neuron might not be able to perceive the image contained in the entire brain - but that doesn't matter, that's not its function. Its function is to pass the signal along. Now yours is, too.

Pass the signal along. Pass it every day, every minute. Let it flow through you. Let it become you. If you are here reading this because you love Buck-Tick, you already know. Don't be afraid to know because someone told you to be afraid. The time for fear is over. The signal is love. Love is greater than fear.

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In our next post, we'll address the state of affairs in Buck-Tickistan.

Meanwhile, thank y'all again for your support. Also, we've received a lot of requests for doing capsule analyses of the lyrics to individual Buck-Tick songs. Are y'all still interested? If so, please tell us which songs you'd like us to start with and we'll take it from there.

(That cat with the sexy legs from Nyanko Daisenkyou)



1.2.20

Luna Park / Datenshi

Sorry for the wait, but in our old age, we like to take our time with these translations, knowing that y'all will wait patiently for us on the strength of our massive internet fame (that was a joke, we know the Internet waits for no man, woman, or non-corporeal genderless entity such as ourselves). In any case, the kanji, romaji, and translations for "Datenshi" and "Luna Park" are now up over at This is NOT Greatest Site, so feel free to go check them out, and leave your thoughts on the songs in the comments section below.

As depicted in the jacket photos, "Datenshi" is a song dealing with duality/non-duality. For those of you not familiar with the concept of non-duality - non-duality is the metaphysical understanding that every binary is in fact a whole, two opposite poles of the same energy, each incapable of existing without the other. In a space with no light, no shadows can be cast. Without shadow, how would we define light? Male and female exist to merge and recombine with one another - that is the entire purpose of sexual reproduction, so how could one exist without the other, or be superior to the other? Positive/negative, up/down, black/white, thing/nothing - all are relative, all are one. Buck-Tick have been exploring this theme for a long, long time, most notably on Six/Nine, which is easily described as a concept album about rinne, the Buddhist soul cycle of death and rebirth, but which is also a concept album about non-duality - turn over the six and you've got a nine, and vice-versa. The band expressed this theme visually in the series of largely black-and-white music videos which accompanied the songs, occasionally accented with splashes of red, representing the raw passions of the heart and the blood we spill on account of them, as well as the flowering of love from the heart and the fire of life kindled by this love (see the notes on "Rozen Kreuzer" for more on that). 

Buck-Tick returned to this visual theme in the music videos for "Keijijou Ryuusei" and then "New World," representing the way in which our actual experience of life is an eternal instant, every new moment we experience a whole new world of being - sometimes you see, sometimes you don't, and if it's all just like shadows on the walls of Plato's cave, all you can do is feel your way through with your heart to guide you. 

Now, with Datenshi, they have returned to the same theme yet again - on the back of the single, the band members are seen embracing white cutouts against a white background, while in the booklet, they are seen embracing the same cutouts, only this time they're black on a black background. Other self, other half, higher self, inner woman, shadow self - the symbolism of these images is deep. We are the sum of all our emotional experiences, positive and negative. Sakurai wears a jacket made up of white and black panels as if to illustrate that fact, with a flowered tie over his heart - there's that flowering of love again. In the music video, the band swirl through a darkened studio in front of a wall-sized projection screen flashing phantasmagoric yet quotidian images of Tokyo - views from train windows, closeups on cars and graffiti and trash, Shibuya's Scramble Crossing, green summer trees, a blurry split-second wink of hardcore porn on that smutty line about "Oh baby thrusting You & Me." 

Buck-Tick have long asked the question, what is reality? Is it as physical and material as self-styled "hard-headed modern scientists" would have us believe? Or is it a projection of consciousness out of the larger conscious Universe, more like a dream or a role-playing game, more subject to our feelings and desires, projections and fantasies than we've been allowed to believe? If we took a drink for every lyric Sakurai has ever written about life being a dream, we'd be too drunk to keep blogging, so we'll put our money on him coming down on the metaphysical side of this debate (remember how they made a whole album called Dreaming Universe?) The "Datenshi" PV exemplifies this subjective view of reality as individual experience in typically elegant, simple Buck-Tick style - they're in the same studio the whole time, wearing the same costumes - it's just the backdrop that changes. 

As in the music video for "Detarame Yarou" (off Six/Nine), Sakurai's wearing red lipstick, copiously smudged, as if he's fresh from a wild makeout session or vicious devouring of raw, fresh-killed prey, evoking all his many previous exhortations to devour life and feast on love. However, for all that he called "Datenshi" a nihilistic song, we found it quite sensual and romantic - just look at the first stanza. Love's a magic spell, love is joy, he sings. It's like he's frustrated to be here, amid so much hurt and chaos, when he knows that the higher self, the one casting the shadows on the cave walls, is more like an angel of love than a carnivorous beast. From our earlier post on "Datenshi":

Nearly all religious and spiritual traditions tell of the existence of an immortal spirit or soul which survives physical death. Death is seen as a gateway, a transition, or a return to a higher plane of consciousness, which is often described as the angelic realm. In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, souls reincarnate many times in order to hone love, wisdom and compassion against the pain of the three-dimensional physical world. In each life, the soul must temporarily lose its memories of its previous lifetimes and realms beyond, in order to make a fresh start and get the most out of each new life of experience. Buddhism is not a mono-theistic religion - anyone who attains a high enough level of spiritual enlightenment becomes a Buddha, and it is believed that the process of seeking this enlightenment takes many lifetimes. From this perspective, the idea of the fallen angel could be seen as an allegory for the human condition.

This certainly does seem to be the theme of the song after all, summed up in the repeating phrases "tell me who you are" and "tell me who am I." Love lies at the center of these lyrics as it lies at the center of existence, the red rose amid all the black and white. Stories abound across space and time of amnesic, reincarnated or destined lovers who have forgotten the beloved's face and identity, yet still gravitate toward one another, pulled by the force of the love itself, which transcends space, time, and memory, and therefore cannot be forgotten. 

But how to trust your feelings, when you have nothing concrete to rely on? Ancient peoples believed fully in unseen worlds, but our modern society is obsessed with visible material reality to an unprecedented degree - can't see carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or acidifying oceans, guess that means they don't exist, huh? Can't see viruses, guess that means we don't need vaccines, eh? Show me the money! This capitalistic and unhealthily over-masculine world view demonizes the feminine energy of intuition and emotion (by the way, for those of y'all still hung up on little things like pronouns, masculine and feminine are qualities of being which every person of every gender inhabits and expresses to varying degrees. They are polarities of energy and they have nothing to do with chromosomes or genitalia, so please be kind to and love yourselves and your bodies). We're taught not to trust our feelings and intuitions, not to express our emotions, and it's even worse for men than for women. 

So here's Sakurai, an increasingly openly gender-queer man in lipstick and nail polish, singing in the first stanza of the chorus, "love's an illusion." It's abundantly clear from all his previous work, and even from the rest of this song, that he doesn't actually believe that. The universality of love, the primacy of love, the inherent meaning, value, and importance of love - if Buck-Tick's work has one over-arching theme, that's it (look at the lyrics to "Cosmos," "Yumemiru Uchuu," and just about every other Buck-Tick song ever.) The question is, am I allowed to believe in this love? Am I allowed to feel this love? Am I strong enough to overcome the pain of this hell I've fallen into, and express this love? Will I deny everything and kill myself by punishing myself for everything I feel I've done wrong? Or will I open myself to forgiveness, forgive others, forgive myself, let myself be healed? The concept of non-duality recognizes that we are all connected, and that just as any hurt you inflict on me is also a hurt you inflict on yourself, to forgive yourself is to forgive me (and vice versa).

In the second stanza of the chorus, he takes a stand:

This is love yeah You & Me
Oh baby thrusting You & Me
Pressing my lips all over you
Tell me who am I

He admits it - the love is real. He tastes it physically. He realizes that through our love for each other, we define each other. The love is his true identity, it can show him who he is.

On a more metaphysical level, these lyrics and this kind of story can also represent the re-integration of suppressed or fragmented elements of one's own soul, self, consciousness, logos or whatever term you prefer (because words are always subjective) - in Jungian terms, re-integration of the shadow self (re-acknowledgement and acceptance of repressed, despised aspects of oneself), or in New Age spiritual lightworker terms, re-integration with the higher self (tuning in to the layer of your own consciousness which resides in higher dimensional vibrations of reality outside three-dimensional physical incarnation and transcending three-dimensional life and death).

If you found all that very abstract and metaphysical, well, welcome to Buck-Tickistan. Lots of Japanese Buck-Tick fans admitted that they didn't even know the word "keijijou" ("metaphysics") until Buck-Tick released "Keijijou Ryuusei" ("Metaphysical Meteor") in 2014. The meaning of life, death and love are the Piscean deep ocean waters in which Buck-Tick swim. We encourage all of you to go ahead and ponder these questions more, and probe the ways in which they relate to your own feelings and experience. Don't be afraid to feel. Don't be afraid to be guided by your heart and your intuition. Don't be too shy to get your feet wet. Life should be about diving in deep. The deeper you go, the more precious the treasure you find sunken at the bottom.

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And after that punch-packing three minutes and thirty-three seconds (Was this deliberate, guys? Imai, are you back to smoking caterpillar hookahs again? Real talk: who else here sees repeating number sequences all the time? Please discuss.) Anyway yeah, after that punch-packing three minutes and thirty-three seconds of minimal electro-punk, we get three minutes and forty-four seconds (jeez Hide are you smoking caterpillar hookahs too?) of shimmering sugar-synth shoegaze dance-pop: the long-awaited "Luna Park." This is every bit as simple and beautiful as we expect a Hide ballad to be, evoking shades of "Mugen," "Love Parade," and "Ophelia" like wisps of memories while still being entirely its own new thing, every bit as minimalist as "Datenshi" and true to Imai's promise that the new post-No. 0 Buck-Tick will return to the electronics, but also pare back the layers to focus on negative space. No. 0 was a major achievement for Buck-Tick and certainly one of their most mature and well-developed albums of all time (though Thousand-Armed Kannon knows they set a very, very high bar), but if it had one flaw musically, it was that the mixes were so crammed with noise and buzz that at times, the main thrust of the melodies could recede too far into the background, or end up too dry. 

Heading back into a more minimalist direction corrects for this, and if there's one thing "Luna Park" is not, it's dry. The whole song glitters with a gentleness like morning dew or tears of joy, floating and shimmering like the bubble in the lyrics over a deep, grounding, propulsive bass line. Sakurai is free to let loose the full expressive power of his voice as he likes without fear of being drowned out by too many guitar effects, which can only be the right choice, because what would Buck-Tick be without that voice? Free, too, is Cube Juice, whose use of bell and sugar synth tones evokes both recent popular trends in soft electro-lounge music and also ultra-retro 70's and 80's analog sounds, creating a layered, pastel-colored, modern-yet-nostalgic cotton candy musical dreamscape through which you can practically smell the caramel apples and cinnamon donuts, taste the wine, blink back tears against the brightness of the colored lights.

True to his word in the latest FT interview, Sakurai was clearly heavily inspired by the works of Marc Chagall, who painted just as many circus scenes as he painted flying blue lovers. But the circus and the parade have long been one of Buck-Tick's other central themes. If love is the rose at the center of the Universe, the circus is the way we should all be living our lives - in the moment, tasting, drinking, dancing, flying, feeling joy, not fearing what-ifs and worst-case-scenarios. Bubbles burst, but does that mean they're not worth enjoying while they last? This is an old, even ancient, Japanese literary theme, and personally, we think this may be one of Sakurai's greatest lifelong accomplishments as an artist - taking ancient Japanese literary themes and images and reworking them, in all their beautiful simplicity, into his own personal, heartfelt, immediately-experienced symbolic lexicon for the modern era, taking timelessness and making it timely., then timeless again.

The subtlety of these lyrics is as lyrical as Chagall's paintings. The song opens with a line about a flying teacup - surrealist, gentle and fragile as bone china, evoking the fanciful shapes of amusement park rides. Sakurai uses irregular kanji for "tobu" (containing the radical for feathered wings) and "odokeru" (meaning "tawamureru," to play or joke in a carefree manner - no cruel japes here). In the second verse, the kanji in "yume yume" is repeated in full twice, rather than using the doubling character 々 as is common, as if he'd like to underscore that each lover is fully present, a fully realized dream himself/herself, or perhaps that he'd like to re-live this dream again. The line "we close our eyes," which he's so often used as a gentle expression for death, here evokes the freedom to dream and imagine. "Hold your girl in both your hands," he sings - "te" can mean both arms and hands, so this is much less of a passionate grab and more of a gentle, reverent reaching out, as one might to a dream come true, something beautiful beyond imagining, mindful to take care not to break it, just like the teacup. And then there's the line about the wine glass - like the glasses at one of the Jewish weddings which Chagall loved painting, drained and then broken underfoot, so the happiness of the wedding toast might never be tainted. Too often, Sakurai uses "oyasumi" ("good night") to mean death, but here, we can't help but feel he's encouraging everyone to dream that dream, or maybe even just to take time to space out and rest, as he reports doing last summer. The negative spaces in between things are what makes the things themselves pop.

And now, let's take votes on which of these Chagall paintings y'all think Sakurai has on the walls of his house. Leave your vote in the comments below.

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"Lovers over the Town," one of the paintings Sakurai refers to in the first line of "Luna Park."


"Over the Town," one of Chagall's most famous works.


"Blue Lovers," another one of Chagall's early famous works. 


"Green Lovers," a similar painting with a similar theme but different color scheme.


"Couple Over the Town" - look, this one has some sexy boobs!


"Aleko and Zemphira," a study for one of the sumptuous ballet backdrops Chagall painted. Note the recurring red rooster motif - no matter how magical the night, the dawn will always come (but not before the cock crows ehehe).


"Lovers in the Sky of Nice." With a full moon, bass-playing horse, and another red cock. Nice.


"Lovers with Half Moon." The cock is blue here and the only sign of other colors are in that lovely bouquet. The lovers look conspiratorial here - the dude is definitely making an Acchan-chan-approved "you don't know half the sexual tacos I'm thinking about eating right now" face. The half-moon is a fish, the new moon a dark circle. This one's sexy. Is it this one?


"The Lovers" - here the horse is pulling a saucy yellow cock in a sleigh but the lovers are dancing ballet. Is that a circus below? This is a nice one! Maybe it's this one! 


"Arabian Nights" - is it this one? Arabian Nights is the first phrase in the lyrics to "Goblin." Horse and cock still there, but the only non-blue color is the light of the moon. Or is it the sun? Did y'all know Mr. Sakurai is born in the year of the horse?


"L'air Bleu" - Oh now these saucy non-conformist lovers are dressed in red, on a bed of lilacs, symbolizing first love. The cock is playing the fiddle while the city sleeps. Instead of the horse, there's a goat, symbolizing animal desires. Mm-hm. Somehow we don't think it's this one, but this is a good one anyway.


"Lovers" - One red, one blue, very No. 0 or Japanese bathroom sign colors. (Women are represented with red in Asia because Periods are Power). Many other people appear to be floating in the sky with the lovers. Perhaps they are other dreamers or dreaming couples. The fiddler's on the ground this time. It's always nice to make out to music, eh?


"Newlyweds with Paris in the Background." They're not even floating anymore, they're just chilling with some nice red flowers, the moon, the Eiffel Tower... this is the best of life. Kids, never marry unless you feel this good about your partner. Your partnership shouldn't be a prison of mediocrity. Never settle for less than passion. Chagall and his wife were madly in love till she died.


And now, some circus paintings! First, "Le Cirque." Tell me that hoop isn't just a teeny bit Arui wa Anarchy.


Next, "The Blue Circus." Horse ogles sexy lady in red dress on trapeze while moon looks on, cock plays drums and fish tries to cop a feel. This is definitely something Acchan-chan would hang on the wall of his boudoir.


We're not sure about the title of this one, but that girl is definitely feeling up that lute-playing clown's tights-clad thigh as if she's a crazed fangirl at a Buck-Tick concert.


"The Grand Circus." Buck-Tick saw this one and started the Parade Festival, for sure. There's even a 13kai ballerina! Lovely use of rainbow colors, disembodied hands. This was probably also an influence on The Beatles' Yellow Submarine film.


And last but not least, "The Concert." The lovers are in the center and the musicians are playing for them under a full moon! The cock-fiddler is now some kind of yellow canary fairy! And the lovers are in a canoe that looks suspiciously like the cover of Yumemiru Uchuu. We bet Acchan-chan has this one on his wall, for sure. That band on the left are probably Buck-Tick.



Now, if you're not sick of us yet, as a bonus, some fab photos of Luna Parks, new and old. First, the original Coney Island Luna Park (now long gone).


Luna Park Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, complete with moon-surmounted gate and "Japanese Theater."



Luna Park, Sydney, Australia (still operating).


The surreally beautiful Volare ride at Luna Park Sydney.




Luna Park Sydney with the iconic Sydney Opera House in the background (in fact the opera house was Photoshopped in. This is actually a photo of Buck-Tickistan.)



Luna Park Palavas-les-Flots (this is an actual photo of the inside of Imai Hisashi's brain).


Photos of the defunct Festival Gate amusement park, built more or less on the remains of Osaka's own Shinsekai ("New World") Luna Park and surmounted by Tsutenkaku Tower, taken personally by Cayce circa 2009. If you're in Osaka and you like fried food, for sure head to Shinsekai to eat some kushi-katsu (deep-fried skewers of just about anything). If you need to stay overnight in Osaka on a budget because you spent all your money on Buck-Tickets, you can stay over in Spa World, an indoor hot spring theme park resting on the ashes of Luna Park. Don't ever stop dreaming.




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