New Japanese Vibes (53) – Yakushimaru Experiment ウラムの螺旋より ‘Ulam no Uzumaki Yori’

Exploring the creative potentials of mathematics, improvisation and reading, やくしまるえつこ Yakushimaru Etsuko (a.k.a. Yakushimaru Experiment) developed an experimental concept album, featuring the track ウラムの螺旋より ‘Ulam no Uzumaki Yori’ (‘From the Ulam Spiral’). Directly taken from Stanislaw Ulam’s theory, she scored and visualised the prime numbers to fabricate a rhythmically infectious and visually entrancing experience. Prepare to be immersed in a perpetual loop of stuttering vocal samples, militaristic percussion rhythms and quirky visuals.

Other Info/Context

  • Yakushimaru Experiment’s new album Flying Tentacles was released on March 30th, under Ryuichi Sakamoto’s label commons, celebrating its 10th anniversary.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (50) – Yasei Collective ‘Lights’

Yasei Collective return with their new track ‘Lights’ from their new album Lights, radiating their multi-coloured modern electro-pop sound world to great magnitude.

Lights’ breathes a gentler vibe than some of their previous material, drifting away with vocal utterances, otherworldly electronic textures and stuttering through an ambivalent rhythmic impulse. The track gradually climbs towards a clamorous wall of noise before cascading down for a voltage-coloured guitar solo to trigger another sonic crescendo. Each member also took the time to shoot video footages under the concept of ‘lights’, showcasing their own interpretations and another side to their personality.

Other Info/Context

  • Lights will be released on April 16th.
  • Find out more about Yasei Collective in my blog post here.

© 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 (29) – Negative Headphone ‘Calling’

The rather enigmatic figure that is Negative Headphone takes us into an intense and sumptuous 8-minute ambient sonic journey.

Perhaps ‘Calling’ speaks to the idea of ‘process music’. It is a painfully gradual transition from an opening melodic riff that expands harmonically, and the sonic palette slowly snowballs with various sparkling electronic samples, mellow piano tones sporadically appearing and vanishing like little water droplets, a perpetual electric guitar-like propulsion and sonorous drumbeats cumulating towards an opulently textured pinnacle of ambient bliss, and then descends back to its original idea.

Other Info/Context

  • Negative Headphone also creates videos to accompany his music.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (26) – Lullatone ‘A Photograph From The Day You Were Born’

The delicate and charming ‘pajama pop’ of Lullatone in 2016 is bound to be quite a busy one. The Japanese-American duo of 富田淑美 Tomita Yoshimi and Shawn James Seymour made a new years resolution to release a new track every Thursday in 2016, and ‘A Photograph From The Day You Were Born’ is their second track they have shared. You can expect their soundcloud page to get pretty vibrant.

This sweet little tune encapsulates Lullatone’s imaginative musical personality. Cute melodies, twinkling tuned percussion, serene sine-wave textures, electronic crafts, silky strings and gentle piano and guitar harmonies soothe and coat the listener’s ears in a transparent, honey-glazed ambience.

Other Info/Context

  • Check out my other post on Lullatone here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (23) – Iku ‘Emotion’

Building on the traditions of Detroit Techno, (Morozomi Ikuko) Iku’s ‘Emotion’ from her latest EP Imagination evaporates a dark yet seductive sonic fountain. The track drifts into the unknown from the outset, with snappy but unclear vocal samples punching the stereo field, a brooding bass line bending and creeping like a deep-sea creature, scattered noise samples shattering like glass and a forbidding tone from the drumbeat all in agreement and deeply imbued with mystery. The addition of savage ‘door slam’ samples in the latter half almost concocts an imminent violent force waiting to pounce.

Other Info/Context

  • Imagination EP was released on December 21st.
  • Iku released her Imagination EP under Detroit Underground, a record label/multidisciplinary arts collective based in Michigan, USA, dedicated to new experimental and electronic music.

© Isaku Takahashi

角銅真美 Kakudo Manami

角銅真実 Kakudo Manami’s compositional craft has a special power to take one’s audible senses into the unknown. A percussionist, composer and a keen eye for art and drawing manga, the Nagano prefecture born musician boasts an eccentric musical personality that shares traits from both contemporary and popular territories.

Kakudo’s music conveys a strong interest towards minimalist aesthetics. 小さなトラック ‘Chiisana Torakku’ (‘A Small Track’) is a strong example that embraces minimal approaches. Under the duo name 文角 Bunkaku (*taking a character from each name) Kakudo alongside BUN imai engage in a repetitive musical conversation based on a riff from the pianica and melodion which fluctuates between two chords and a sweet melodic motif from the sparkling glockenspiel, growing towards jarring distortion sounds and dwindling into more intimate solos. With minimal material (both instrumentally and musically), Bunkaku manage to brew a perpetual cycle of energy that speaks to the likes of Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

The poignant quality of わたしのすいか ‘Watashi no Suika’ (‘My Watermelon’) perhaps attests for a vision of cinematic musical portraits. The track consists of a solo piano for the most part unwinding at a gentle pace with a silky ascending melodic pattern and sonorous harmonies, like a serene flow of water. At sporadic moments, bursts of ornamentation and tonal dissonances are scattered like raindrops or impurities forming ripples on a lagoon. Shy vocal utterances from Kakudo reveal itself as the piece dies down to a faint conclusion.

Gamla stan’ is a personal favourite, perhaps because of the way it relieves my audible senses from any troubles and disturbances with simple musical and sonic ideas. Evocative of a Sigur Ros-like meditative sound world, the track wanders through like velvet with tranquil harmonic progressions and melodies from the electric piano and the hazy yet smooth vocals of Kakudo.

On the façade Kakudo Manami’s music appear simple, yet closer attention will immerse listeners in an exhibition of enchanting sonic experiences.

Other Listening:

  • Wine Song
  • Febuary 1
  • kaeru

© Isaku Takahashi