Acclaimed Japan “minyo footwork” duo WaqWaq Kingdom – aka Shigeru Ishihara (DJ Scotch Egg / Seefeel) and Kiki Hitomi (ex-King Midas Sound) – return with feverishly joyous new album Hot Pot Totto, a bubbling hot pot of dance music that responds to ecological anxiety.
“Two words are conjoined: hot pot and ottotto,” vocalist Kiki Hitomi tells us. “Ottotto is the Japanese equivalent of “oops”, or said when someone nearly falls over but manages to get their balance back: “it was dangerous but now we are safe!” Combined with the heady brew of their musical styles (“like a psychedelic Nabe hot pot: melting traditional Japanese Minyo with Jamaican dancehall, footwork, dub, techno, tribal polyrhythms and Super Nintendo soundtracks”), producer Shige Ishihara’s time in East Africa working with local musicians, and the dayglo hallucinogen of the duo’s visual aesthetic, WaqWaq Kingdom’s thumping, thrilling, irresistible third release is a unique ride. Treated voice, floor-shaking beats, and dizzying, transforming colour palette are tied to heart-quickening BPMs.
Thematically – despite its ostensibly celebratory impact – Hot Pot Totto addresses the world’s grave ecological state. “Now our earth is on the way to catastrophe, as global warming becomes a serious problem through humanity’s fault. We are on the edge,” Hitomi writes. “We need to get back on the right track.” The ottotto of the album title refers to this experience – the need to get back on track. However, this is not lamenting music: it is fiercely defiant, full of colour and rapture, maintaining an optimism that we can.
The album’s lyrics refer to humanity’s sacrifice of our planet for our own material gains, centring around key line “Turn disaster to our advantage / good fortune and happiness will come to those who smile,” offering not regret but encouragement and empowerment, alongside addictive neon alien sonics and relentless vibrancy.