Japanese Breakfast at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC

Japanese Breakfast

The title Soft Sounds From Another Planet alludes to the promise of something that may or may not be there. Like a hope in something more. The songs are about human resilience and the strength it takes to claw out of the darkest of spaces.”
Michelle Zauner wrote the debut Japanese

Breakfast album in the weeks after her mother died of cancer, thinking she would quit music entirely once it was done. That wasn’t the case. When Psychopomp was released to acclaim in 2016, she was forced to confront her grief. Zauner would find find herself reliving traumatic memories multiple times a day during interviews, trying to remain composed while discussing the most painful experience of her life. Her sophomore album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, is a transmutation of mourning, a reflection that turns back on the cosmos in search of healing.

“I want to be a woman of regimen,” Zauner sings over a burbling synth on the album’s opening track “Diving Woman.” This serves as Zauner’s mission statement: stick to the routine lest you get derailed, don’t cling to the past, don’t descend. In fact, ascend to the stars; Zauner found artistic solace removed from Earth, in outer space and science fiction. “I used the theme as a means to disassociate from trauma,” she explains. “Space used as a place of fantasy.”

And yet, Soft Sounds From Another Planet isn’t a concept album. Over the course of 12 tracks, Zauner explores an expansive thematic universe, a cohesive outpouring of unlike parts structured to create a galaxy of her own design. In the instrumental “Planetary Ambience,” synths communicate the way extraterrestrials might, and on the shapeshifting single “Machinist,” which Zauner has been performing live for over a year now, she details the sci-fi narrative of a woman falling in love with a machine. “It’s pure fiction,” she explains, “But it can map onto real relationships in a relevant way.” The track, which begins with spoken-word ambience, moves into autotune ‘80s pop bliss and ends with a sultry saxophone solo, perfectly marries the experience: there’s a perceptible humanity in mechanical, bodily events.

Within its astral production, much of Soft Sounds From Another Planet stays grounded. “Road Head” is the last chest compression in attempt to resuscitate a doomed relationship, while the penultimate track “This House” is an acoustic dirge that honors Zauner’s chosen family. The baroque pop “Boyish” has a haunting, crystalline clarity that recalls the pathos of a Roy Orbison ballad, while “Body is a Blade” embraces the dark intimacy of Zauner’s Pacific Northwest heroes Elliott Smith and Mount Eerie.

With help from co-producer Craig Hendrix (who also co-produced Little Big League’s debut) and Jorge Elbrecht, (Ariel Pink, Tamaryn) who mixed the album, Zauner recontextualizes her bedroom pop beginnings, expanding and maturing her sound. The sheer massiveness of the big room production on Soft Sounds From Another Planet introduces listeners to a new Japanese Breakfast. Zauner’s familiar, capacious voice will serve as their guide.

“Your body is a blade that moves while your brain is writhing,” she sings. “Knuckled under pain you mourn but your blood is flowing.” There’s discernible pain in the phrasing, Zauner recognizing limitation, a lack of control, but then subverting the feeling, creating her own musical language for confronting trauma. Where Psychopomp introduced the world to Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds dives deeper. It builds space where there is none, and suggests that in the face of tragedy, we find ways to keep on living.

▼ Show More Information

723 Rigsbee Ave, 27701
Durham
03 April , Tuesday 20:00

More Events Nearby

 13 October , Saturday
 DPAC, Durham
 19 October , Friday
 Will's Social Bistro & Lounge, Durham
 22 September , Saturday
 Durham, NC - Where Great Things Happen, Durham
 29 September , Saturday
 DPAC, Durham
 13 October , Saturday
 DPAC, Durham
 20 October , Saturday
 Sunny Acres Pet Resort, Durham
 13 October , Saturday
 DPAC, Durham
 29 September , Saturday
 DPAC, Durham
 13 October , Saturday
 Main Street Creedmoor, Creedmoor
 28 September , Friday
 Vrroom VIP: Upclose and Personal, Durham
 22 September , Saturday
 Raging Bull Harley-Davidson, Durham
 22 September , Saturday
 Mid-South Fencers' Club, Durham
 20 October , Saturday
 Weaver Street Market Hillsborough, Hillsborough
 06 October , Saturday
 The Edge-Soccer Programs, Morrisville
 19 October , Friday
 Ruckus Pizza, Pasta, and Spirits, Morrisville
 21 September , Friday
 O'Malley's Pub & Restaurant, Raleigh
 06 October , Saturday
 Weaver Street Market, Carrboro
 13 October , Saturday
 Weaver Street Market, Carrboro
 05 October , Friday
 Trali Irish Pub-Morrisville, Morrisville
 19 October , Friday
 Trali Irish Pub-Morrisville, Morrisville
 22 September , Saturday
 Lillian Suarez Weddings + Events, Raleigh
 06 October , Saturday
 By The Shore Scuba Instruction, Raleigh
 12 October , Friday
 The Farm Pool, Chapel Hill
 20 October , Saturday
 Carrboro Farmers' Market, Carrboro
 12 October , Friday
 Virginia & Maryland Triathlon Series, Durham
 15 October , Monday
 Central Orange Senior Center, Hillsborough
 13 October , Saturday
 Burwell School Historic Site, Hillsborough