If you think Halloween is over think again — Tokyo-based four-piece ATARASHII GAKKO! has shared a new infectiously spooky track and music for their song “HANAKO.” The group has just come off a hugely successful tour of the U.S. which included a stop at Head in the Clouds. Their newest surprise release came on the eve of Oct. 31 but its hauntingly hook-filled melody and twistingly hypnotic vocals make it an eerie bop for all seasons.
Tangled up in their illustrious and eclectic pop composition is the familiar Japanese urban legend of Hanako-san, which tells the story of a girl ghost who typically haunts lonely school bathrooms. As dizzying electronica and hammered keys flit in the background like uncontrollable spirits, ATARASHII GAKKO! contort their vocals into something dually fixating and disquieting. Yet the group’s avant-garde pop approach seems made for such haunts — as it turns out that they didn’t exactly set out to make such a creepy banger. It just came out that way.
The music video for “HANAKO,” directed by Sayaka Nakane, takes the terror factor up a notch. Filmed at an abandoned elementary school the film sees the group in their signature sailor-fuku as they attempt to make contact with Hanako, performing their self-made choreography amongst the stalls of a creepily lit bathroom. Eventually though, after some odd occurrences, one of ATARASHII GAKKO! make contact and are seemingly possessed by the spirit. And of course, the whole video puts a spotlight on the group’s enigmatic moves which mix everything from Japanese butoh and heavy metal headbanging to hip-hop street dancing.
“We wanted to get into the mood with Halloween approaching and release something uncharacteristically spooky. You didn’t expect it from us, right?” the group said of the release. “We initially recorded a demo of ‘HANAKO’ with Money Mark, along with all the songs from our EP SNACKTIME. It was just around Halloween last year. The track had these weird sounds that instantly made us think ‘spooky,’ which inspired us to tell a ghost story.”
Words by Steven Ward
Watch the music video for “HANAKO” the new single from ATARASHII GAKKO! below!