Album Review: Cho Co Pa Co Cho Co Quin Quin – tradition [Time Capsule; January 2024]

Words by Tatiana Narishkina


You will not hear Japanese instruments or Asian motifs here, as the Cho Co Pa Co Cho Co Quin Quin‘s creative foundation is rooted in Cuban folk music and the 1970s psychedelia of Haruomi Hosono.

The album, named tradition, draws its inspiration from one of the foundational rhythms of Cuban music, featuring guitars, acoustic drums, and a classical drum kit, complemented by electronics and a synthesizer. The music lacks bright, catchy melodies but instead immerses the listener in a thoughtful and relaxed state through its organic composition.

Listening to the album, one might not sense the transition between tracks due to the uniformity of rhythms, vocal styles, and melodic scales, creating a seamless flow from one song to the next. Additionally, several tracks are under 2 minutes long, which, rather than fostering individual immersion, contributes to a unified melodic ambiance.

The band members describe their music as an attempt to evoke a sense of exoticism and melancholic nostalgia for the travel and freedom lost during the pandemic. The group formed through the reunion of three childhood friends amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

The album’s standout track, “Gandhara – ガンダーラ,” accompanied by a music video shot inside and beside a car, vividly captures the pandemic’s enforced intimacy. The band considers this song the epitome of Cho Co Pa’s experimental sound, linking it to the ancient city of Gandhara, a key conduit for Buddhism’s journey from India to China.

Contrasting with the album’s overall rhythm, the most lively track is tradition, which also lends the album its name.

The most serene track is “Quarantine Mood”, an acoustic piece featuring guitar, simple percussion, and the reflective, melodic vocals of the lead singer.

Beyond electronics and Cuban rhythms, the band incorporates the darbuka (an oriental drum) and the oud-like guitar, adding a cosmic dimension to some tracks. This fusion of Afro-Cuban percussion, lo-fi beats, and Japanese sound precision creates a unique sonic realm. Vocalist Daido articulated this in an interview, stating, “My aim in composing a song is to transport the listener to a mystical place.” Cho Co Pa crafts enticing auditory landscapes across 12 distinct tracks, using lyrics as yet another layer of sound.

The band gained popularity in Japan following performances alongside BADBADNOTGOOD at the Asagiri Jam in 2023. The success of Tradition was unexpected for the band members, as the album was initially a home-recorded experiment. It was digitally released in July 2023, followed by an international vinyl release in January 2024.

A curious fact about the band is the involvement of Haruomi Hosono’s grandson, a nod to the legacy of a Japanese musician and producer renowned for his pioneering role in the bands April Fool, Happy End, and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Hosono is celebrated as a seminal figure in Japanese pop music, ranked among the top 100 Japanese pop artists of all time by HMV. This connection, as admitted by the band, remains an open secret.



tradition, Cho Co Pa Co Cho Co Quin Quin's latest album, is out now via Time Capsule.
Listen to the album and get your copy HERE