New Japanese Vibes (153) – Kensei Ogata ‘Someone Will Love You’

A short spell of summer has arrived in London, so it makes sense to blast a voltage-induced sunny rock number while soaking in the sunshine. Much to one’s delight, a new tune by Kensei Ogata cropped up out of the blue. ‘Someone Will Love You’ marks a coming of age in two ways – it’s the first song Ogata released as a band line-up, and musically diverts into new stylistic territory. In contrast to much of the spellbinding synth-led songs in his album Her Paperback (released in 2012 under Dead Funny Records), Ogata unleashes powerful rays of post-rock energy with an infectious rhythmic and harmonic motor that throws back the days to the teenage rock generation.

Other Info

  • Find out more about Kensei Ogata on his website.

New Japanese Vibes (152) – 小袋成彬 Obukuro Nariaki ‘Selfish’

小袋成彬 Obukuro Nariaki’s debut as a solo artist is a long time coming. While his extensive career as a supporting musician includes backing vocals in 宇多田ヒカル Utada Hikaru’s latest album Fantome, he breaks the shell and will launch his first solo album 分離派の夏 Bunriha no Natsu this month, which includes the song ‘Selfish’. The song immediately gives us a vivid glimpse of his individual artistry – musically, it is elusive in its narrative but has a unique charm to it. The opening beats deceives us into thinking Obukuro will escort listeners along a rhythmic soul/R’n’B road, but it serenades listeners in a pure and sensitive folk ambience for much of the track while peaking and ebbing in texture and expression. Obukuro also mesmerises us with his rich and fresh voice that reaches towards his sparkling falsetto range.

Other Info

  • Obukuro Nariaki’s new album Bunriha no Natsu will be released on April 25th. Find out more about him on his website.

New Japanese Vibes (151) – Madoka Ogitani – 波と風とカモメ ‘Nami to Kaze to Kamome’

It’s the Easter holidays in many parts of the world, which means it’s a time to not only relax (with a basket of chocolate beside you) but also reflect. What better way to let your mind and senses wind down in reflection than with Madoka Ogitani’s purifying music in the air. 波と風とカモメ ‘Nami to Kaze to Kamome’ (‘Waves, Wind and Seagull’) dreams up a musical galaxy that sees elements of ambient, post-minimalism, post-classical and the sounds of nature gather like particles, ebbing and flowing in texture and atmosphere.

Other Info

  • Madoka Ogitani’s new album Itsumo Dokokani is out now. Find out more about Madoka Ogitani on her website.

New Japanese Vibes (150) – 古川麦 Furukawa Baku – ‘Halo’

Intimate yet rhythmically pulsing, ‘Halo’ by California-born singer-songwriter 古川麦 Furukawa Baku transports the listener’s senses to a blissful musical oasis. The song shines an imposing quality that is unparalleled by others – its sensitive arrangement of various styles from folk to contemporary jazz, and soulful ambience kindled by each instrumental voice (particularly from the silken soprano sax solos). A good measure of a song’s universal appeal is how far the actual music (regardless of any language or cultural barriers) resonates with the listener’s emotions – ‘Halo’ is a must listen for both the Japanese audience and those beyond the ocean.

Other Info

  • Furukara Baku’s new album Seascape was released on March 21st. More info is available on his website.

New Japanese Vibes (149) – フレンズ Friends ベッドサイドミュージック ‘Bedside Music’

ベッドサイドミュージック ‘Bedside Music’ has a special place in the heart of the band フレンズ Friends. This gentle rock tune kickstarted their life as a quintet, and they now relish the experience of driving the roads of Japan and showcasing their charming and eloquent music and personality.

Musically, the song rides the same waves as the 80s city-pop trend that flowed through the veins of the Japanese music scene then, with its light and mellow adult-rock vibes, cute and sophisticated vocal melodies, and luxurious instrumental colours with a touch of soul glittering throughout. Whether you’re walking down the street with your earphones, or literally lying on your bed or sofa, Friends are one from today’s generation of artists to hear out for.

Other Info

  • Friends’ new EP Bedside Music will be released on March 21st, and is available to buy and stream here.

Picks of the Week #29

  • VIDEOTAPEMUSIC – ‘Fiction Romance’

The avid traveller I am, I always picture geographic landscapes when listening to music that is naturally evocative of a distant city or terrain. VIDEOTAPEMUSIC transports one’s senses to an environment surrounded by palm trees, sand and beach with their song ‘Fiction Romance’, a throwback Jamaican-inspired tune served sunny-side up that both juggles the body in rhythmic sync and lays down a towel on the sand for the listener to indulge in its colourful melange of saxes, trumpets and tuned percussion.

Fiction Romance’ features in their album ON THE AIR. Find out more about VIDEOTAPEMUSIC on their website.

  • Alfred Beach Sandal + STUTS – ‘Horizon’

In a collaboration between solo act Alfread Beach Sandal (北里彰久 Kitasato Akihisa) and producer STUTS, ‘Horizon’ is a sensual collage of rock, latin and R&B vibes that is mellow and urban-cool in equal measure. Throughout the track, one can open their ears to a sumptuous sound world that is harmonically and sonically amicable yet at times elusive, but at the same time, one cannot help but bop along to the punctuating beats and grooving bass.

Horizon’ features in their album ABS+STUTS. Find out more about Alfread Beach Sandal here and STUTS here.

  • Ghost like girlfriend – ‘fallin’

For something a bit more urbanesque, ‘fallin’ by Ghost like girlfriend is the perfect track to play through your earphones while soaking in the cosmopolitan sights and neon lights of Tokyo. The song shines in its opulent electronic production, centred around a pulsating and soulful pop vibe, while spinning around a colourful mix of synths, melodic melancholy and refined, intimate vocals in orbit.

‘fallin’ features in their mini album WEAKNESS. Find out more about Ghost like girlfriend on their website.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (148) – aaps ‘Tower’

Formed by three female musicians, ayaka, assan and panda, Okayama-based trio aaps slows down the body clock with their idle and nostalgic number ‘Tower’. The gentle drum beats, buzzing bass line, shimmering guitar chords and cool-calm vocals oar through the song unperturbed (with the odd psychedelic u-turn in the harmonies), taking the listener with them in the blissful indie rock air and stroking the relaxed senses from every corner.

Other Info

  • aaps’ new album Chilly Morning was released on March 7th. More info is on their website.