YMCK – Family Music

Family Music

There’s one thing I can say for sure about YMCK’s Family Music – you will either love it or hate it. This Japanese trio, featuring Midori (vocals), Nakamura (keyboard), and Yokemura (keyboard), creates music best described as a throw back to 8-bit Nintendo soundtracks. There’s a little bit of retro pop thrown in for good measure, but for the most part this is all about single tones at amped speeds with sugary vocals that push the cuteness factor to the limit.

Surprisingly, the sound on Family Music is not as monotonous as I expected. There’s only so far YMCK can take the 8-bit Nintendo sound, but the group mixes it up as much as possible with the vocals, a tiny bit of pop music, and some video game samples. There’s a tad of Super Mario Brothers fused with the keyboards of “Magical 8bit Tour” and plenty of Tetris on “Tetrominion – From Russia with Blocks.” The YMCK ladies also use an old-school electronic voice a la Speak ‘n Spell in the very brief intro and elsewhere like the opening of “Synchronicity.” The 12 tracks here fly by rather quickly, and although just about everything is sung in Japanese, the liner notes provide English translations so that you can enjoy gems like, “pastel colored candy is the whisper of a devil.”

I think Family Music is an album you have to really be in a certain mood to fully appreciate, because otherwise the music will most likely begin to get on your nerves after a while. I imagine hardcore gamers and 80s retro enthusiasts will love this regardless. Still, this is like nothing else I’ve ever heard, and Midori, Nakamura, and Yokemura get kudos for managing to write these songs in the first place, because other than a few samples here and there, these tunes are 100% original creations. In the hands of a truly appreciative fan, YMCK’s Family Music is surely absolutely brilliant.