80KIDZ, consisting of duo Ali and Jun (formerly a trio when Mayu left in 2009) have caught the attention of various global musical hubs with their exhilarating music that pertains both to the conventional principles of electro/dance/rave styles and the ever-growing interest and appetite for original and innovative musical personalities.

Their first album This Is My Shit back in 2009 is a seminal work of the Japanese duo, most notably for attracting the eye of Pete Tong from BBC Radio 1 leading to a segment of his radio show In New Music We Trust dedicated to a closer exploration of 80KIDZ’s music. ‘She’ and ‘Miss Mars’ were two of three tracks to feature in the segment. ‘She’, featuring the fluid vocals of AutoKratz is a piece of seductive electroclash, motored by a powerful four-on-the-floor drumbeat, recapitulating piano arpeggios and a dazzling array of synth patterns and textures. ‘Miss Mars’ induces a similar irresistible foot-tapping groove, but is tinged with shades of chiptune timbres in the choppy synth lines. Both of these tunes would be equally harmonious in a laser-filled rave atmosphere.

Weekend Warrior, their second album has a captivating quality that is equally impressive as their previous effort. Subtle contrasts in character between individual songs gives a fine variation when one is navigating through the musical labyrinth. As a comparison, ‘Prisma’ with its neon-tinged synths perpetuating through a bright melodic phrase coordinated with an equally infectious squelchy bass line and bustling drum rhythms and samples provoke a rhapsodic sensation. One track later, ‘I Wish’ intrudes the album with a much more contorted, dizzy affair with quirky vocal samples manipulated tonally and texturally stirring up a spectral undertone, and seesawing synth layers, bass lines and fluctuating drum patterns making the listener endure a more volatile sonic experience.

Some of 80KIDZ’s most recent material has seen the duo occasionally venture into introspective territories, such as ‘Apollo 80’. A ghostly ambience from the piano figure laced with quivering echoes in the backdrop introduces the track, and this sense of long-windedness stretches through the whole journey with a gentle propulsion hardly associated with the duo’s trademark electro-pop aesthetics. Perhaps this piece is emblematic of their different creative intentions surrounding the album TURBO TOWN, in which this piece features.

The appeal of 80KIDZ’s intoxicating music has not only enriched the Japanese electronic music landscape, but transcended cultural boundaries as audiences of various cultures look forward to the Japanese duo embarking on more fresh and exciting sonic adventures.

Other Listening:

  • Esquire
  • Flying Buttress
  • Nautilas
  • Red Star
  • Lightwaves

© Isaku Takahashi