Superorganism have exploded in the year since releasing their debut single, Something for your M.I.N.D. The song, which was recorded only a day after the lead singer Orono’s 17th birthday, was released randomly on Soundcloud. That song went onto become Rolling Stone magazine’s 25th favourite song of 2017.
The support consisted of the all girl Japanese punk rock band, CHAI. I don’t think many people were prepared for what was about to begin. From the very start their energy was ridiculous and instantly had the crowd smiling and dancing along to their exceptionally unique sound. Just when everyone thought there would be no more surprises, the quartet broke into an acapella version of Dancing Queen by ABBA which was enthusiastically sung back to them by the adoring crowd. The face of the band may seem to be innocent and non-confrontational but, CHAI are on a mission to change the perception of beauty in Japan. They describe their aesthetic as “neo kawaii” and want people to know that everyone is beautiful and has their own level of “kawaii-ness”. Although some of their message may have been lost in translation in the West End of Glasgow, it was clear everyone was loving CHAI and their infectious energy.
Superorganism, who describe their music as original “internet-age electronically-tinged indie pop music”, have been producing some of the most compelling and original music of the last year. The octet; yes there’s 8 of them, aged from 18-35 – hail from England, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, originally met online in music forums and now they live in a large terraced house in the East End of London that doubles as a 24/7 music studio.
This all seems mad, and this eclectic mix of people is reflected in their brilliant self-titled debut album. Their songs reflect the age we live in now, an age where “Everybody Wants To Be Famous”. In SWG3, this exhibitionism is in clear view and it’s captivating. The band arrive on stage wearing rainbow coloured fisherman’s coats, holding glowing moons like something out of Doctor Who. Projected behind them is a video-mash of internet memes, cats and youtube clips – something straight out the brain of the band’s visual artist Robert Strange.
The band launch into their first song, SPROGNSM (pronounced Superorganism), and the crowd is suddenly right there with them. Orono may only be 18, but she conquers the crowd with her voice; she is so chilled and cool she sounds almost sleepy. The performance seems too strange to be real, everybody is looking around with disbelief, but as soon as the bassline kicks in the crowd is bouncing with their hands up, fingers pointing at the band. Looking around, the song does exactly what it intends; everybody is dancing as one – as a superorganism. A pre-recorded reverb-filled voice speaks: “A superorganism is a creature made up of many different individuals […] you are me, and I am you”. The synths build throughout the song, coming to a crescendo in the final chorus. The entire audience is screaming the words, “I gotta be a superorganism, I have to be a superorganism”and it’s true, we do.
Between songs, Orono kept the performance riding the line of sincere and ironic. As the rest of the band took a break, she stayed. “I f***ing love the Scottish. You have the best names! I bet if I asked the whole front row for their names I wouldn’t know any.” She grabbed a bottle of Irn-Bru: “One of the downsides to, you know, being so rich and successful now is that it makes it too easy to get addicted to this stuff,” she proclaims, much to the excitement of the crowd. “I’ll chug it!”
The songs are surreal; they effectively blend heavily modulated synths, reverb-dripping guitar, sound effects (apple-crunching, water splashes), ethereal backing vocals and the occasional well-enunciated robotic voice. Their performance was even better; the concert was was one of the most energetic and colourful we’ve ever been to. Superorganism’s debut album is a foray into some of the best boundary-pushing in music today. If they play in Glasgow again snap a ticket up, because it’s likely you’ll not see a band this vivid and weird for a long time.
(Song recommendation: Something for your M.I.N.D)
By Sean MacDonald & Callum Ogilvie