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If you wanted to pinpoint the moment Cero broke the glass ceiling of Japan’s indie music scene, it would be March 7, 2016. That’s when the group — still cresting on the buzz generated by its “Obscure Ride” album the previous year — performed that record’s signature singalong, “Summer Soul,” alongside aging boy band SMAP on the latter’s “SMAP×SMAP” show.

Though the Tokyo-based trio had been steadily expanding the audience for its brainy, eclectic art-pop, there was something surreal about seeing it on prime-time TV, occupying a guest spot normally reserved for established J-pop artists and pedigree international acts (the following week, it was Kool & The Gang’s turn).

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