For more than 15 years, Tokyo, Japan’s Tenniscoats have been keyboardist/vocalist Saya and guitarist Takashi Ueno.
The duo have brought equal parts meditative intensity and whimsical humour to a series of acclaimed psychedelic albums, beginning with 2000’s The Theme Of Tenniscoats. But Tenniscoats have rarely released music without collaborating with others. Most famously, they teamed up with Scottish indie pop legends The Pastels in 2009 for the wonderful Two Sunsets album on Domino Records.
They also worked with Swedish group Tape for 2007’s Tan Tan Therapy and followup Papa’s Ear (released in January this year), as well as US outsider pop icon Jad Fair for 2011’s Enjoy Your Life. Saya has also released an album with Satomi Matsuzaki from Deerhoof under the name One One, while Ueno and Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier occasionally perform live as Can Can. In fact, 2011 album Tokinouta is one of the few releases attributable to Tenniscoats alone.
New album All Aboard! continues the band’s collaborative tradition. Tenniscoats have joined forces with legendary Japanese drummer Ikuro Takahashi, active since the mid-70s and revered for his work with experimental and psych-folk icons like High Rise, Fushitsusha, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Nagisa Ni Te and Che Shizu.
Takahashi first played with Tenniscoats a decade ago when they visited his hometown Sapporo, the snowed-in capital of Japan’s icy north island Hokkaido. So in 2005, when they began to record with Australian expat Richard Horner in his Sapporo studio Black Snow- flake Sound, they naturally asked Takahashi to join them.
The result, pieced together over years of annual visits to Sapporo, is an album that presents Tenniscoats at their most relaxed and most compelling. Nominally their “rock” record, if only because they often perform drummerless, All Aboard! is warm, loose and sprawling, while retaining those hypnotic Tenniscoats melodies.
It is their first album for Chapter Music since concert opus Live Wanderus in 2005. The band have toured Australia numerous times since then, playing the Perth and Brisbane Festivals in 2009, touring with Deerhoof in 2010, and playing Perth’s This Is Nowhere festival in 2012.