The Japanese House: Pools to Bathe In
An out of date publishing of an out of date reflection on the seasonality of an EP.
It’s autumn in London. The weather has turned cold-er. Rain seems an ever-present possibility, intent on damping and washing away copper and amber piles that all definitely hide mounds of shit. On this particular day at this particular time the greyness has lifted and the sun shines down and there are very few people in the park, almost matched in number by dogs leaping in and out of the leaves after sticks and away from owners. I’m consumed by a desire to listen to something completely appropriate and right for what the world around me looks like and feels like, coupled with the exhaustion I feel from seemingly endless nights slinging beers, a pattern to be continued this night still.
All my obvious possibilities are too wintry. Bon Iver makes more sense inside with whiskey and beer, or on walks when the wind bites more aggressively and the rain seems like an inevitability rather than something biding its time. The National seems unseasonal, with drums that will ground my footsteps too solidly in a distinct rhythm. Sufjan Stevens is at once too optimistic and too desolate. St. Vincent is the S/S season. In retrospect I suspect what I was unknowingly craving was Sparklehorse – lo-fi and grubby and slightly broken. But I couldn’t remember the name. Instead I scrolled through the music saved on my phone, my data-less ability to download music on the spot restricting me, wonderfully, from simply searching for a playlist.
The Japanese House. A name I remembered. I’d downloaded an older EP of theirs some months earlier that I listened to obsessively for two days. The opening, barely audible, noisescape (mingling as it did with the sound of the wind around me) of “Pools to Bathe In” worked. The lightly sauntering guitar pattern worked. Then it stopped, and chugging, meaty, synth notes pushed their way into the track. I reached in to my pocket to change the track, to try again, but Bain’s voice pulled its way back into the track and it all made sense. Huge reverberating synth was what I needed, one note at a time. Layered, echo-y, filtered vocals and light guitar lines were what I needed.
My pace slowed as I determined to reach the end of the EP before the end of the pathway. Somehow, far and away from what I thought I wanted, The Japanese House’s Pools to Bathe In EP was exactly the autumnal soundtrack I needed. And I’ve since returned to it on grey-black-and-blue-sky days alike. I should probably listen to the more recent album (Good at Falling), or at least the latest single (“Something Has to Change”) but for now my walks will fairly consistently last at least 15 minutes.