Can music make your brain skip? Japanese producer Toriena is doing her best to find out. Her new album, Raw, released by the Tekkie Trax squad, is nine tracks of madness, all delivered with clear rhythms and pastel vibes. It feels like someone in a Pikachu costume dragged themselves across a carpeted dancefloor and, fully static charged, kisses a nitrous balloon. The album is a confusing listen at first glance but rewards close attention.
To choose the Toriena character, you need a cheat code. First, scroll to the gummy bears selection. Then choose the high fashion skin. Don’t forget get to toggle the setting to rave. And finally, click the hologram color theme on the drop down menu. She’s a living, breathing Easter Egg. She says the album is themed around raw nerves and is a compact version of sounds that excite her: “It’s rave music that’s been dripping out of my brain.”
Once you drop into the metallic static orbiting a collapsing color wheel, themes and ideas start to appear within the chaos. There’s a method to the madness. But everything moves at the speed of light and the meaning flashes by so fast that you miss it if you’re not paying close attention. Shards and reflections of sound float everywhere and you need to squint to make anything out. It’s like wearing a cracked Oculus at a virtual rave with a Nintendo dress code. Time is circular and the album simultaneously switches the dial to the 80s while swiping right to the 2020s with everything in between becoming relevant again and blending together before you realize it’s happened. Is it the eve of big the Y2K reset, or are you experiencing a lockdown blip? Doesn’t matter. Those two decades have folded in on themselves. 90s breaks and Mortal Kombat synths melt into Sailor Moon animation cells depicting a broken Dance Dance Arcade machine stuck on hyper speed. Acid squelches get crushed to eight bits while being dragged into the wormhole.
She also delves into warped pop territories, with videos like “CQC” from a couple months back capturing her style on camera, sing-rapping in clipped vocals. It adds a more approachable element to listeners who might need to warm up a bit before diving in fully.
If you hang out on the bird site, you might have noticed the horned, illustrated character (the same as the one who graces her cover) exploring different virtual environments. Her name is LiLENA, an avatar that Toriena designed, modeled, and rigged in Blender.