New Japanese Vibes (91) – Balloon at dawn ‘Our Blue’

A vivid and sumptuous dream-pop/synth-pop rainbow gleams in my senses as I let my ears indulge in Osaka-based trio Balloon at dawn’s new track ‘Our Blue’. Often dream-pop and chillwave tunes have the tendency to wallow listeners in a sedative sonic experience – ‘Our Blue’ on the hand surfs the vibrant waves of synth-pop with an array of celestial synth colours while revelling in clamorous drums, shimmering guitars and 井口聖也 Iguchi Seiya’s blissful vocals.

Other Info/Context

  • Balloon at dawn’s new EP Our finder will be released on December 21st.

© Isaku Takahashi


New Japanese Vibes (31) – Hiroto Kudo ‘Tripper’

Penned by Sendai producer Hiroto Kudo, Tripper’ traverses through a sumptuous and dreamy electronic voyage.

The track evolves from a luminous synth idea humming away with mellow harmonies and enriched with a deep dronal resonance. Stuttering beats, glitch samples, exotic melodic inflections, various synth textures and percussion timbres lend an evocative oceanic atmosphere as the sonic journey intensifies inch-by-inch, then suddenly plunging down to the opening embryonic foundation that casts away into the distance. It’s music that is delicately spellbinding.

Other Info/Context

  • Kudo also released a new EP this month called Vanish.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (25) – Takaki Ryuuta ‘Fallen’

As one surfs through the SOUNDCLOUD universe, a new talent in the electronic sphere comes to light. ‘Fallen’ by young beat maker Takaki Ryuuta immerses one’s audible senses in a fragile arctic and minimal atmosphere, dipping into a deep ocean of dub, chillwave and ambient ideas. Tiny sonic samples, ambiguous harmonic riff, fluctuating synth colours, woozy pitch bending, gravity-pulling bass sonorities and infectiously rhythmic percussion timbres intrude the listener’s sensations through every angle, creating an illusionary nocturnal effect in the process.

Other Info/Context

  • Takaki Ryuuta also released his debut album Sink Into The Midnight on 13th January.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (24) – HAMMER ‘Field’

The album sampler of HAMMER’s new record Field gives listeners a preview into a vivid sonic landscape of celestial spirits. Produced by Watanabe Wataru, the album includes an array of ambient, techno and chillwave numbers from him and three remixes by other practitioners. ‘Elysian Field’ proves to be one of many highlights with an undeniably seductive RnB groove, while the cinematic sonic experience of ‘beautiful starry sky & no name river’ and the mysterious angles of ‘psycho field’ and ‘zyuin’ are equally spellbinding.

Other Info/Context

  • Field was released on January 9th.

© Isaku Takahashi


The next installment to this series focusing on DEAD FUNNY RECORDS features the duo FANCY BOOKS, a man and woman duo (Mitsuomi and Fumiko) from Saitama prefecture.

Their sonic palette is a renewal of retro synth pop sounds that take us back to the likes of Yellow Magic Orchestra, and glimpses of Kraftwerk or the Pet Shop Boys. ‘Sister Carry Stars’, from their EP Wisteria glorifies in vintage analogue-flavoured synth oscillations and drunken melodies, and a drum machine beat reminiscent of 70s/80s disco grooves. FANCY BOOKS subverts the overly mechanised nature of electronic dance music with ripples of heavy and eerie reverberating vocals that transports us to a futuristic chillwave/nu-disco landscape.

The comparison DEAD FUNNY RECORDS makes between FANCY BOOKS and artists like Au Revoir Simone and Memory Tapes is understandable when you hear tunes like ‘Sponge Boy’, brushed with dazzling synth colours and a head-bopping drum line. To permanently mark their artistic signature (throughout their EP), the duo goes about in adding pockets of tipsy, wobbly electronics that traverse through the stereo sphere, as a way to disorientate the listener’s navigation through this cosmic musical alleyway that is experimental in nature, but equally crammed with boldly kitsch details.

The duo takes a divergent path towards a new age flowing vibe with ‘Nephogram’, which features on the record label’s first compilation album. Celestial synths and samples that glisten through the stereo field accompany the lugubrious but spine-chilling vocal expressions that drift off into the audible universe, and spellbind the listener into reverie.

It’s dreamy and seductive music that could accompany an imagination of roaming around Tokyo at its nightlife glory full of glittering neon lights. The magical atmosphere that exudes from the musical universe of FANCY BOOKS that has the capacity to cocoon any listener’s sensual vision is a testament to their ability to craft out an array of absorbing sonic colours and environments.

Other Listening:

© Isaku Takahashi