Lullatone, who live in a big white house in Nagoya, are in Tokyo this weekend to play the free stage at Tokyo Midtown (Sunday, 2pm). I couldn't miss it, despite the fact that a Digiki birthday lunch I very much wanted to attend is happening at the same time. Last night I met Shawn and Yoshimi for the first time, introducing them to my friend Alastair Prentice. When I told Shawn Alastair was a hypnotist he got very excited -- Lullatone plan their album titles way in advance, and Shawn told me the album after next is to be called "Let's Get Hypnotized with Lullatone". You can see the slogan flash up in the graphics for their live show.
Hypnotism is already implicit in Lullatone's gentle, repetitive, soothing music. Their name is a tribute to Raymond Scott's deliberately hypnotic "Soothing Sounds for Baby" records -- the tone of a lullaby. The band are delighted to admit that their music is soporific in the best possible sense -- sitting on the terrace of Sign Cafe at Daikanyama they told me that they'd tried to listen to their "Tiny Songs About Raindrops" album all the way through to the end for about two months, in order to find the best arrangement of the tracks. They'd never made it through -- each time they'd fallen contentedly asleep.
We ate a Thai meal together then went to a quiet Ebisu cafe where Alastair actually hypnotised Shawn, touching his hand repeatedly and talking him into a state where he involuntarily raised his arm to his face then lowered it to the table top in strange, jerky movements. Shawn later swore that he hadn't tried to move his arm and had really been hypnotized. He made a very willing subject (I have a tendency to giggle at lines like "I want you to feel your creativity in the tips of your fingers, the tips of your toes, all your tips...") and wanted to learn all he could about hypnotism from Ally -- especially how to hypnotize people with music. Lullatone listeners, you have been warned!
Of course, as Ally pointed out over dinner, if hypnotism really had the power some people imagine, nobody would be sitting casually at dinner with a hypnotist. We'd all be slaves -- or sex slaves -- in their castles. Then again, Ally does have a suspiciously gorgeous girlfriend...