photo by Nikko La Mere

LAの南海岸出身の韓国系アメリカ人ジェニファー・リーによるソロ・プロジェクト。トキモンスタの”トキ”とは韓国語でウサギの意味で、そこへモンスターを合わせて命名した。幼少からクラシック・ピアノ、クラリネット、ギター、ドラム等を習うことのできる恵まれた環境で音楽的素養を身につけた後、ヒップホップ、初期のレイヴ・シーン、そしてエレクトロニック・ミュージックに感化され、ビートメイカー/プロデューサーとしての活動を開始する。クラシック・ピアノのバッググラウンドを活かした叙情的なメロディと、生楽器、パーカッション、デジタル機器、そしてアナログ・レコードまでを使用し構築するサウンドは、その美貌も相まって注目を集め、Flying Lotus主宰Brainfeeder初の女性アーティストとなる。2010年にはRed Bull が主催するミュージック・アカデミーRed Bull Music Academyへ参加、そしてファースト・アルバム『Midnight Menu』をリリース。一躍西海岸ビート・シーンの中心へと躍り出て、その人気は瞬く間にヨーロッパや日本へも波及し、初来日も果たす。2011年にはBrainfeederからEP『Creature Dreams』を発表。2012年には坂本龍一、Shing02と大飯原発再稼働反対トラックを制作した。その後SkrillexやDiploとのツアーを経て、コーチェラなど様々なフェスティヴァルへも出演。2013年にはセカンド・アルバム『Half Shadows』をUltra Recordsからリリースした。順調な活動をしていたが、サード・アルバムの制作に取りかかった2015年の後半に脳血管障害「もやもや病」を発病。二度の大きな脳の手術とリハビリを乗り越え回復し、本作『Lune Rouge』を完成させた。

As TOKiMONSTA, California producer Jennifer Lee’s charted a fascinating career over the past seven years, and Lune Rouge is her exhilarating next step. The third proper long-player from TOKiMONSTA is both a logical progression of her sound and a surprising left turn from an artist that rarely ceases to surprise. A smoky, patient, and altogether lovely collection, Lune Rouge mixes modern sensibilities with old-school sounds to make for a heady brew of moonlit music.

Lee’s work as TOKiMONSTA gained widespread recognition from the very start: her 2010 debut album, Midnight Menu, saw release on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint and cemented her reputation as a formidable presence of the then-emerging West Coast beat scene. 2011’s Brainfeeder release Creature Dreams EP expanded on Midnight Menu’s palette with successful forays into vocal-led cuts thanks to the presence of regular collaborator Gavin Turek; the 2013 LP and Ultra Music debut Half Shadows found Lee exploring darker shades of her sound with guests such as Kool Keith and MNDR in tow.

Following Half Shadows’ release, Lee collaborated with artists like Jessie Ware, Anderson .Paak, and Kelly Rowland, while also putting out several records on her own Young Art Records imprint that served as practical blueprints for the dusky environs of Lune Rouge. Mini-albums Desiderium from 2014 and last year’s FOVERE elegantly deployed pitch-shifted vocal samples to add new textures to the TOKiMONSTA sound, and in 2015 she added her capable touch to Turek’s own mini-album, You’re Invited. All these roads lead to Lune Rouge, a lush work that stands as the summation of what she’s been cooking up since Half Shadows.

TOKiMONSTA’s sound has always kept one foot in the pop stratosphere, but Lune Rouge finds her diving in with glee. Her effervescent beats serve as the perfect framework for these gorgeous songs: Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna weaves in and out of water-droplet tones and a stuttering chipmunk’d sample on lead single “Don’t Call Me.” “I’m super grateful to have created a song with Yuna,” Lee gushes. “I was a fan of hers for a while, so I have to shout out the world wide web for allowing two people on different continents the ability to create together. The message of the track is really more than unwanted phone calls, but the idea of people deciding to show up only when they need you.”

“I chose the title Lune Rouge, which translates to ‘red moon’, because I think people perceive it to hold ominous weight,” Lee explains her thinking behind the album’s title. “However, a red moon is rare and pretty awesome event from a scientific perspective and, to me, means significant change.” And Lune Rouge is the latest change in her prismatic career—a testament to the healing powers of art in the face of insurmountable difficulty.