review - 03.06.2019 10:01

April Fool’s is long over, but the band remains.

On last year’s April Fool’s day, BAND-MAID announced a departure from their usual maid look and introduced BAND-MAIKO, a maiko band. Moreover, the girls released a cover version of Secret My Lips, called secret MAIKO lips, where the maid’s familiar heavy sound was mixed with traditional Japanese instruments, and the musicians change their uniforms to kimono and traditional heavy make-up. The joke was well received by the fans, though nobody expected it to continue. This year, BAND-MAIKO not only returned and declared themselves an official BAND-MAID rival, but unexpectedly released a visionary debut mini-album.

The maiko have borrowed six of the album’s seven tracks from their ‘opponents’, but they’ve refreshed them with some cool additions. First of all, the lyrics were rewritten using Kyoto dialect. If you’re familiar with the original tracks, the new versions will sound kind of unusual. Secondly, the use of new instruments (and flamboyant shouts!) transforms the songs, giving them a unique new flavour. For example, in YOLOSIOSU (originally, YOLO) and TORA and TORA (One and Only), the flutes and traditional string instruments are incredibly harmoniously blended with the powerful hard rock sound of BAND-MAID. In Screaming, the fast-paced guitars are supported by an unexpected shamisen, leaving the listener asking the question, “Hey, is this allowed!?”

In general, the maiko are doing a great job astonishing the fans of the maids, especially when you’re expecting, let’s say, a heavy part, but hear completely different instruments instead. Such surprises allow BAND-MAIKO to distance themselves from their ‘rivals’ and sometimes even multiply the charm of BAND-MAID’s music. It’s really hard to go back to the original versions after calm ansan and Akasimahen, covers of Anemone and Awkward, respectively. It seems like they are missing something: a crisp of snow under the feet at the beginning, the soft sound of string instruments, a slightly more gentle and moving vocal, an alluring Oriental charisma.

Despite the great and interesting changes, it’s clear, that all the tracks are heavily influenced by BAND-MAID. However, the final song GIONCHO was written specially for the maiko. You’ll find more MAIKO and less MAID in it. The first original track allows the band to fully show its potential. Powerful energy interweaves with the elaborate atmosphere of traditional Japanese music, turning the song into a battle between fierce choruses and soft verses, which is a real delight.

According to the band members, BAND-MAIKO’s goal is to unite maiko and hard rock. As musicians they did a great job on this front – they didn’t just add an unusual element to the familiar tracks, but seriously reworked the lyrics and sound. As a result, the self-titled mini-album became a truly interesting work, which can surprise all of the fans of BAND-MAID with fresh ideas. It’s kind of funny, that an April Fool’s joke outgrew itself and became a real band with a real release. However, it looks like BAND-MAIKO will rarely be seen and it’s doubtful they’d ever perform live because of the unwieldy outfits which prevent comfortable playing of their instruments. But we don’t mind at all, if the maiko will release something like this once a year.
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