Tsukino is the debut 5-track EP from Boston-based, Ann Arbor native Mei Semones. In just over 21 minutes, Mei brings us into the dreamy jazz-tinged world of her music.
From the opening track, Yoake, the mix of strings, vocal textures, the Brazilian rhythms of the guitar part fills up the sonic space. There’s the dissonance in the string lines, the sweetness of Mei’s vocals as well as the percussive drive of the drum parts. Part of the aesthetics bring back retro 70s vibes and part of it transports you into an Instagram filtered picturesque landscape.
Going into the second track, Kodoku, her fingerpicking sets the mood before the harmonized electric guitar parts enters along with drum brushes and the strings. Some of this reminds me of Kaki King’s work around her album Until We Felt Red (2006) though a distant impressionistic way.
The strength of Mei’s work is the beautiful mix of layered delicate melodies and the driving rhythmic parts. This is music that can be at home during a rainy afternoon or in an open air jazz festival.
I certainly could picture Mei performing at Jarasum International Jazz Festival in South Korea (the biggest jazz festival in South Korea) or playing the Baybeats Festival (a major rock festival in Singapore) in Esplanade, Singapore. That cross-genre feel makes this music special.
On track three, Tsukino – the beauty of mixing the Japanese lyrics and English lyrics shine more and more. The sound the vowels in Japanese paint a dreamy soundscape that blends with the textures of the string parts.
The fourth track, Muchuu goes back into a bouncy bossa nova beat with tasteful percussive hits that go along with her vocals that sing about becoming infatuated (both the singer & the person the song speaks of).
As the track fades out, the EP closes with Hfoas (demo) which is mainly a duet between the distinctive electric guitar part that punctuates and answers her vocals. This demo version of her debut single already captures the essence of what we hear on the released version back in March 2020.
My favorite part of the song are all the harmonics that she plays in between the strong percussive strummed parts. Although this version lacks the upright bass and strings (and the delay in the harmonics) in the March 2020 version, there’s so much personality in this demo that makes it a wonderful way to close this EP.
All in all, I haven’t been this inspired from an artist’s debut EP in years. Mei is a musical talent to pay close attention to. I certainly look forward to her upcoming 3-track EP Sukikirai 好き嫌い which is coming soon in just a few days. Congrats Mei & to more great music in the future!
Find more information about Mei & where you can stream, purchase & download her music on her official website here: https://www.meisemones.com/
About Mei Semones
“Born from a sonic enthusiasm of John Coltrane, The Smashing Pumpkins and Thelonious Monk, Mei Semones is a shining new star in the angelic amalgamation of indie music, jazz and J-Pop. Her debut EP, “Tsukino 月の,” was released in late January 2022, following the original release of her first single, “Hfoas” in March 2020, and continued Semones’ tradition of containing lyricism in both Japanese and English – a euphonious love-note to her East Asian heritage.” – Caitlin Andrews, Periphery Magazine
Mei Semones is an artist creating jazz influenced indie pop songs with lyrics in both Japanese and English, currently based in Boston, MA. Drawing from her background in jazz guitar and her Japanese heritage, she uses creative harmonic and rhythmic concepts and two different languages to create compelling and soothing songs.
Mei’s influences include John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery,
Thelonious Monk, João Gilberto, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana, with a sprinkle of folk. Combining these different influences, her songs create a space where genres freely mingle and merge.
Mei released her first EP, Tsukino 月の, on January 21st, 2022. The EP features five songs with lyrics in both Japanese and English, with lush string arrangements and a rhythm section of guitar, upright bass, and drums. The EP includes a bonus track of an unreleased demo of her debut single “Hfoas,” available on all major streaming platforms.
Originally from Ann Arbor, MI, Mei was introduced to the piano at the age of 4. She started playing guitar at 11 and began playing jazz when she entered high school. She is currently attending the Berklee College of Music and performing on a regular basis, as she continues to further her education in jazz performance. Mei is the lead guitarist in the live bands of The Brazen Youth and G Luné.
As a songwriter, Mei’s inspiration comes from her love for those around her, and her love for music. To give back to the world what music has given her is the underlying motivation in her art.
Official Website: https://www.meisemones.com/