Music

Purity Ring is bringing some interesting instruments on its return to Japan

by Cam Lindsay

Special To The Japan Times

Purity Ring is sorry for not coming to Japan since 2012.

“We’ve only been there once. We played Fuji Rock about a week before (debut album ‘Shrines’) came out,” says Corin Roddick, one half of the Canadian duo. “We never went for ‘Another Eternity,’ it didn’t work out. I mean, I guess we’re going now. Better late than never.”

Roddick and bandmate Megan James released their second and most recent album, ‘Another Eternity,’ back in February 2015, but somehow a stop in Japan didn’t happen.

“It’s hard to say why, but I guess sometimes the routing just works out that way,” he says. “We did a little Asian tour last summer but for whatever reason Japan didn’t make sense at the time. But it does now. The opportunity to go to Tokyo came up this time, and we weren’t gonna pass it up. I’m pretty excited.”

When Purity Ring performed at Fuji Rock in 2012, it definitely stood out on the bill. However, it was an experience the members relished.

“At that time it was a pretty rock-focused event, and we were more like outsiders being an electronic act, but people were pretty open to us,” Roddick recalls. “It was a good experience. I saw a lot of good bands.”

During that trip, Roddick also played a DJ set at Dommune, which is something he remembers fondly.

“It was so cool,” he says. “It was basically this guy’s basement and the capacity was maybe 15 or 20 people? And it was the most swagged out basement I’ve ever seen. Every surface was covered in LED screens and he had a Funktion-One system. It was probably one of my favorite places I’ve ever DJed. It had this relaxed, unique vibe unlike your typical club or party.”

Now the band is returning to Tokyo to perform its first-ever club show at Womb on March 6. Roddick says he has heard a lot of great things about the club, which seems like the perfect venue to unveil some decorative equipment.

“The main instrument is a series of crystal-like shapes that we strike with mallets to produce sounds so that we can play the melodies,” he explains. “I’m doing a bad job of describing it (laughs), but it’s almost like an electronic xylophone with strange, glowing shapes instead of metal pieces. They’re pretty delicate. We have to be careful with them, and a lot of repairs happen along the way.”

Roddick and James won’t be performing new material, though they are currently hard at work on a new Purity Ring album in Los Angeles. They are, however, looking forward to having a break to explore Tokyo.

“After the show we’re staying in Tokyo for a week, so we get to check it out and try to take in as much as we can,” he says. “I’m a little obsessed with Japanese culture on all levels. Japanese food is my favorite. I watch a lot of anime, read a lot of manga. I love the fashion. I’m pretty much all in. I would love to do more in Japan, just in general. Like it would be amazing to play in some places outside of Tokyo next time. Hopefully with the next album we can come back and do an actual Japanese tour. I would love to do that.”

Purity Ring plays Womb in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, on March 6 (7 p.m. start; ¥4,000 in advance). For more information, visit www.purityringthing.com.

Review: Purity Ring at Womb

Canadian dream-pop duo Purity Ring, which is made up of Megan James (vocals) and Corin Roddick (instrumentals), brought a multisensory experience to Womb inTokyo’s Shibuya Ward on March 6, showcasing classics from two albums for the first time in the city.

The venue’s premier lighting effects and sound system complemented Purity Ring’s visual presentation, which mostly came in the form of glowing crystal-shaped spheres strategically struck with mallets. The setup was smaller than what is typical of the duo’s North American gigs due to traveling restrictions, but the overall look was still striking.

The set opened with “Heartsigh” as James emerged through lasers and synthetic smoke, seamlessly transitioning into the futuristic “Repetition.” Purity Ring’s latest record, “Another Eternity” (2015), featured heavily during the show and provided an evening highlight in “Stillness in Woe” where neon gloves danced with reflected light. “It is probably my favorite track to perform,” Roddick told The Japan Times prior to the show. “We never really know exactly how it’ll turn out each time.”

There were plenty of nods to first record “Shrines” (2012). “Bodyache” was presented with underwater-like flashing blue lights and, of course, “Fineshrine,” perhaps the group’s most famous number was a universal crowd pleaser.

Completing the stage was James’ ensemble — a tight chic black suit with raised sleeves.

“I wanted powerful sleeves,” says James, who custom designs and sews the pair’s live gear. “For me, the clothes are another way for the visuals to fit together, to unify them.”

“Electronic music is a challenge to do live, as it wasn’t intended for performances, so we try and add elements to the stage that we think will be interesting,” Roddick explains. The mix of music and visuals, essentially just a variation of lights, certainly provided for a captivating experience. Only at a Purity Ring concert can you feel the two extremes of blissfully drowning in a tropical ocean and high-as-a-kite raving at a planetarium, at the same time.

James announced they wouldn’t do an encore as the show closed with the ironically titled “Begin Again.” The relatively short set left the starry-eyed audience wanting more and, as the old saying goes, there’s no better way to be left. (James Wong)

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