TAKE ME AWAY FROM TOKYO, much like its all-caps title (and its evocative meaning), is a damn thunderclap. COVID-19 be damned, you’d have to be in a sweaty, dingy, overly cramped nightclub for its songs to feel any more proximal than they already are. Blasting it on a decent speaker might as well be akin to ZOMBIE-CHANG striking you in your dumbstruck face.
Meirin Yung, that is. Not all too much is known about Yung, better known by her musical alias, at least not much my hapless self can find online. She’s a singer-songwriter, she’s also a model, and she once considered her music “anti-folk and anti-EDM”, but with TOKYO she’s all but demolished any barriers between what her sound is and what it isn’t. This is music without limits.
TAKE ME AWAY FROM TOKYO is sinewy, lean yet complex, it’s absolutely throbbing at near all times. It’s both inviting and hostile. It’s the sound of fatigue imploding into frenzied desperation. Whatever world ZOMBIE-CHANG beamed this music in from, it’s not one that shies away from paradoxes.
While this writer is often loath to delve into hyperbole, if I sound excited, it’s hard not to be: to my ears, TOKYO is just about the most excited a previously relatively unknown factor has made me in, well, years. The closest companion that comes to mind for Yung’s sonic sarcasm is Marie Davidson, but this dancefloor is entirely one of ZOMBIE-CHANG’s creation. It’s an album that feels simply meant for this moment, something only Japan could birth, but an album needed the world over.
Take the opener, “STAY HOME”; the title makes its message blatantly clear, but Yung’s choice of words – “Where’s my toilet paper?” repeated again and again – so human, so relatable, yet amusing, jarring and crude, all at once. Beyond general human laziness (who doesn’t hate running out of their last roll, after all), in the era of Corona, going outside at all can feel like a damn risk. TAKE ME AWAY FROM TOKYO thrives in that grim world.
This isn’t to say it’s an album entirely beset by our global pandemic. It, in name and more, deals with the alienation any of us can feel in a city too damn big for anyone to feel truly at home. You can have everything, all at once: it’s all at your fingertips. Yet this only serves to make everything, and everyone, feel so far away. Tokyo, so overwhelming that it’s become bland; this is the world in which ZOMBIE-CHANG casts her shadow, in which she weaves her entrancingly grim dancefloor odyssey.
Delving into her past work, it’s impossible not to appreciate the evolution. Her 2013 EP, あたしはなんですか, exemplifies more of the actual “anti-folk” she once spoke of, while her 2016 album, the more than pointedly-titled Zombie-Change, began to exemplify the electronic inquiries that would solidify and perfect themselves on each proceeding release. They’re all absolutely worth exploring, but Yung has never sounded more at home than while begging to leave her home than on this new album.
At 32 minutes, TAKE ME AWAY FROM TOKYO is fleeting, over all too soon. It seems certain that was the intention: forget leave ‘em wanting more, Yung simply seems to know too much of a good thing isn’t something we can stomach in 2020. That, or, she’s simply too damn exhausted by it all. This isn’t music that feels easy. You can feel the strain in every click and throbbing synth. It’s misery twisted so hard that it’s been strangled into something that feels “cool”. The unaffected, sci-fi outfit laden artist on its cover says it all: she may make it look easy, but it sure as hell wasn’t. TAKE ME AWAY FROM TOKYO, in its anguished ecstasy, is just as likely to tear itself to shreds in a dejected ball of forlorn feelings as it is to comfort.