Neo-Gylian Sound is a musical style that originated in Gylias in the 1990s. It updated the tenets of Gylian Sound in response to contemporary developments, drawing influences from newer genres such as disco, smooth jazz, smooth soul, hip hop, house, and dance-rock.
Coinciding with a period of renewed national optimism and self-confidence after the wretched decade, Neo-Gylian Sound became a leading form of Gylian popular music in the 1990s. It was the main driver of a renewed Gylian Invasion, giving it an impact abroad, and became a major music scene that formed ties with other local and foreign scenes. It also produced a subgenre, city pop, which represented the more hip hop and groove-oriented aspect of the style.
The term emerged in the 1990s, to differentiate the new generation of acts from their Gylian Sound forebears. It proved a useful shorthand to denote musicians who preserved the tenets of Gylian Sound songwriting but brought the sound up-to-date with contemporary influences.
Some musicians have jokingly expressed dissatisfaction with the term on occasion, reasoning that using "new" as a descriptor for a genre is a bad idea because newness is not a permanent quality. Mana Kirishima joked, "I'm old enough to have caught the old Gylian Sound when it was the new thing."
Neo-Gylian Sound takes the foundation of Gylian Sound — its elaborate orchestration and sophisticated songwriting — and combines it with elements from other genres. Particularly significant sources for the fusion of Neo-Gylian Sound include Philadelphia soul, disco, space age pop, jazz fusion, metro pop, house, hip hop, and dance-rock.
The evolution of music technology and the growth of Gylias' nightclub culture were crucial to the emergence of the style. Neo-Gylian Sound music keeps the fundamental elements of its predecessor, such as live instrumentation and quirky orchestration, and adds sampling, hip hop production techniques, dance beats, and greater use of sequencing.
One result of the greater use of technology and sampling is that Neo-Gylian Sound's worldview slightly shifts emphasis from its predecessor's, foregrounding demopolitanism. Neo-Gylian Sound's atmosphere of celebratory cosmopolitanism and egalitarian elegance draws heavily on the demopolitan understanding of urbanism and placemaking. Many acts that portrayed the glamour and excitement of travel did so from an egalitarian standpoint, drawing from the experience of GNRTS high-speed rail services and the leisurely system of touring.
The style's acts also shared a light-hearted admiration of the Golden Revolution and Groovy Gylias. They used famous figures of the 1960s in their artwork, music videos, or lyrics, and treated the music of the era as raw material for sampling, quotation, or fusion.
Neo-Gylian Sound musicians furthered the link between music and image established by their forebears. Stella Star in particular benefited from their lead singer Maki Nomura becoming a style icon and influence. Neo-Gylian Sound acts' releases displayed similarly strong influence from gauchic in aesthetics.
Foreign music journalists see "Neo-Gylian Sound" as an umbrella for various subgenres elsewhere called chamber pop, lounge revival, space age pop, and acid jazz — international scenes with which Neo-Gylian Sound and city pop built close ties.
After the Gylian Sound receded in popularity, several musical styles emerged in the 1970s–1980s that either continued its spirit or provided important inspiration for its eventual evolution, including electronic music, metro pop, hip hop, and dance-rock. The growth of Gylias' dance music scene and nightclub culture, and its crossover with pop and rock, provided a crucial foundation, as did the emergence of sampling as an art form.
The emergence of Neo-Gylian Sound is conventionally dated to 1990–1991. Commonly considered starting points include Stella Star's formation and debut, and Penny Arcade's shift from indie pop to a more eclectic dance-rock sound, followed by Keigo Oyamada beginning a solo career as Cornelius.
Similar to the role Confectionery Records played for Gylian Sound, Readymade Records established itself as a leading outlet for Neo-Gylian Sound, with Ritsuko Management becoming influential behind-the-scenes figures. Readymade's roster was mainly composed of Miranian Gylians and it deliberately cultivated a Miranian identity inspired by francité; it established several subsidiary labels to distribute the work of its non-Miranian acts.
Stella Star and Stereolab became the principal spearheads of Neo-Gylian Sound, establishing the blueprint for subsequent acts. While united by their musical eclecticism and cosmopolitan sensibilities, they took different approaches:
- Stella Star drew heavily on dance culture and extensively employed sampling, fusion, and cut-and-paste styles, producing music characterised by a mood of socialised luxury and joyous demopolitanism.
- Stereolab, starting as a shoegazing-influenced psychedelic band, drew on the "alien funk" strand of dance-rock, with extensive use of drones, looping, Krautrock influences, and politically-charged lyrics expressing anarchist and libertarian socialist viewpoints.
Neo-Gylian Sound consolidated as a distinct style and scene. Cornelius, Fantastic Plastic Machine, Yoshinori Sunahara, Combustible Edison, and Takako Minekawa made their debuts. Takako's lo-fi "bedroom pop" notably stood out among her colleagues, while Yoshinori became better-known as a songwriter and producer than a solo act. Strong supporters of the Law on Cultural Protection of 1992 and Gylias' growing remix culture, the Neo-Gylian Sound scene formed a close-knit community, and established strong ties with Gylias' other large musical scenes, including jazz, dance-rock, and psychedelia — post-rock bands coming to be associated with Neo-Gylian Sound through the Stereolab connection.
The mid-1990s caught the style in full swing, highlighted by Stella Star's "classicist" period and the emergence of the city pop subgenre. Neo-Gylian Sound found success abroad through a renewed Gylian Invasion, bolstered by the growth of the publinet. Its fusion of 1960s pop and 1990s club culture had a notable impact on the Megelanese and Delkoran music scenes, and gained strong popularity in Kirisaki and Akashi. It also found an unexpected audience in Æþurheim, a development that contributed to improved relations with Gylias.
The style followed contemporary developments in electronic and dance music, such as increasing big beat and drum and bass influences. Examples in the late 1990s include Stella Star's "speed lounge" era and Stereolab's increasing "alien funk" and jazz fusion influences. It also produced an associated "sister scene" of Francophone pop that included Air, Coralie Coudray, Charlotte Birkin, and Émilie Simon.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Readymade Records prepared and launched a "new generation" of Neo-Gylian Sound vocalists, including Rin Maeda, Kaname Maeno and Tomoe Matsūra, Lý Quỳnh Vân, and the Vũ sisters. These and other acts sustained the style in a period when its main acts were either disbanding, entering hiatus, or changing their style.
By the 2000s, Neo-Gylian Sound had receded in popularity or evolved into other forms. The "new generation" of Readymade vocalists notably launched successful political careers with the People's Party for a Flourishing Nightlife, becoming a notable example of esteemed artistic figures becoming successful officeholders within Gylias' lively political culture.