PLASTICZOOMS // Immerse yourself into the world of “PLASTICZOOMS”

PLASTICZOOMS is a project that tries to capture music and fashion on the same level, while being centered on frontman SHO ASAKAWA.

With their roots being in genres like 70’s Punk, 80’s Post Punk, New Wave and Gothic PLASTICZOOMS creates a unique sound that doesn’t make you think of the Japanese music industry immediately. Their sound has a more international feel, which is underlined more and more with the self-titled album we’re going to take a look at today.
Before the release of this album SHO ASAKAWA moved to Berlin (Germany) for a year, where he worked on independent projects and performed live shows in five European countries.

By that time he also started to gain more attention from the fashion part of the entertainment industry. Not only is he the designer of “Venus Eccentric” which targets modern youth, he’s also the director of the brand “PAYS DES FEES HOMME” – which also has a store in 中野ブロードウェイ (Nakano Broadway).
Aside from that he’s also a painter, and once a year he holds a solo-exhibition at the punk shop “A STORE ROBOT” in 度原宿 (Harajuku).

In short, SHO ASAKAWA has some diverse creative outlets to his name. Today we’re taking a look at the self-titled album “PLASTICZOOMS”, which came out in January of this year.
Are you ready? Then let’s go!

Frontal Attack
The album starts off strongly with a clear New Wave or even Electronic overtone, which changes to a Rock/Techno-type of mix once the guitars join. From this very moment you, the listener, are no longer on Earth my friend, you’ve now been sucked into the world of PLASTICZOOMS, which sounds like it is located somewhere between time and space. And it’s time for you to ride the waves in that world, something this album is certainly going to help you with.

The Future
While the second song of the album starts off slow, but with a powerful buildup to a rhythmic vocal that adds the Dance genre into the mix, all while remaining a slower tempo overall. Don’t get too comfortable, because there is yet another change to the genre at the end, where SHO changes the final verse to near scream-like with his vocals.

Quite Cleary
PLASTICZOOMS is not the type of sound that you would expect from the Japanese music scene, and SHO ASAKAWA underlines this with “Quite Cleary”. A song that wouldn’t be identified as “coming from a Japanese artist” if it were to be played on European or American radio stations.
While appealing to fans of many genres like Pop, soft Rock, Electro, Techno and even Dance, SHO demonstrates that his time in Germany has given him a lot of insight in the European music scene.

“Minds” slows down the pace of the album, and just like “Quite Cleary” before it is a song that will appeal to the majority of the European and American listeners genre wise. The title is surprisingly well-chosen, since song itself can be described as “a musical translation of the human mind”, where thoughts are constant, but not in a chaotic way. Instead it’s more like the thoughts you have when you’re sitting down after a long day while wrapping your hands around a warm beverage.

“Highway” continues the theme of it’s predecessor, and simultaneously does honor to it’s name by giving the listener the idea that they’re cruising over the highway late at night without a care in the world. Once again SHO manages to translate something “ordinary” into a musical format.
Just make sure that you don’t miss your exit, if you do happen to listen to this track while driving. 😉

“U12” helps to lift the speed of the album slightly, and shows the diversity that frontman SHO can create with this album by changing the overall tone within seconds. The mellow vocals over the simple rhythm of the instrumentals really show the classic influence which reminds the listener of the music that was popular in the 1960’s, but at the same time the modern influence remains prominent due to the use of a synthesizer.

Night & Hurt
While “U12” created a very upbeat scenario, “Night & Hurt” does the exact opposite by setting the tone for a much darker stage. The diversity of SHO as a composer clearly shows throughout the whole album, where “Night & Hurt” may even seem a little out of place, at least at first. Throughout the song the stage slowly returns to the overall theme we could hear throughout the album up until now.

Smoke Motion
“Smoke Motion” might sound like a real Techno song, and the deep vocals may come as a surprise. Yet SHO manages yet again to take the listener on a trip in their own imagination. This time the stage feels like a nightclub in full motion, almost as if you’re seeing the events through his eyes rather than your own.

Veiled Eyes
Keep your eyes closed as we roll into the before-last track of the album, where there is yet again an illusion taking place in your own mind. This time we’re riding an airstream in the sunset, at full speed and under the influence of the rest of the elements. In addition to this scenario we’re also told that we always have to look forward while changing between the sun, eclipse, and a blackout.

The album closes off with the final translation of a real activity into music. While we’re reaching the end of the story the album has told us, the idea of looking over the city after the sun has set comes to mind while the lyrics add the extra element of missing a loved one into the mix. All of those elements combined make an amazing closure, helping to end the album on a soft note.



With “PLASTICZOOMS” frontman SHO ASAKAWA has shown that his time in Europe has influenced his music to the point where it, -indeed-, doesn’t sound like it is coming from a Japanese artist anymore. While being “rather specific” in Japan, the sound of his music is incredibly familiar to the European listeners in particular, since a large part of the European scene has overlapping elements with his music.

While we normally cover much more “flashy” artists and music here on Arlequin Magazine, we do occasionally get reminded we’re based in Europe, where such visuals and music are … not as familiar.
Yet, the Japanese music industry is as diverse as any other country’s music scene. SHO ASAKAWA has managed to create a bridge between Europe and Japan with this album, while drawing you into the illusion that is the world of PLASTICZOOMS. He has managed to create a world where you as the listener can flee to with the help of his music, creating an album that you can’t help but visualize while you listen to it.

If you haven’t checked out this album yet, now is the time to do so! You’ll surely be amazed by his music and influences that bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the world!


Release information

Are you interested in supporting the band by getting your own copy of the release? Here is something to get you started:

01. Frontal Attack
02. The Future
03. Quite Cleary
04. Minds
05. Highway
06. U12
07. Night & Hurt
08. Smoke Motion
09. Veiled Eyes
10. Breitenbach

Release: PLASTICZOOMS (album)
Release date: January 11, 2017
CD number: VJR-3201


雪 (Yuki) is the owner and driving force behind Arlequin.
She originally started the project in 2009 as a photographer under the name of Arlequin Photography, but developed an interest in journalism and translation ever since. Because of these interests interviews and reviews were added to the project, until it eventually hit the limits as a "photographer" in 2021, and Arlequin Magazine was added to the mix.

雪 (Yuki) is a native Dutch speaker with a graphic design degree, which means she is also the main person behind Arlequin Creations.
After all these years she is still the main person who does interviews the interviews and live photos that you see on Arlequin, but also a large chunk of the reviews and behind-the-scenes work and communication goes through her.

She speaks Dutch and English on a native level, but also understands Japanese and German.

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