New Japanese Vibes (128) – slomos ‘dissolva’

Riding the same sonic waves as the likes of Bonobo, Tycho and Cinematic Orchestra, 高山純 Takayama Jun (a.k.a. slomos) lays hold of one’s senses and immerses them in his new spellbinding track ‘dissolva’. This track stirs both the listener’s emotion and entices the body to move with the flow – its swirling sonic colours, perpetual harmonic cycle and rich dose of dream-like nostalgia orbits one another to coax an airy yet intense cinematic soundscape. Soak up slomos’s immersive sound world and prepare your senses to be washed away.

Other Info

  • Slomos’s new album Slomos will be released on September 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi

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New Japanese Vibes (124) – Poor Vacation ‘F/E/E/L/S’ [EP]

While perfecting a particular track gig after gig and day in and day out may be satisfying for some, Poor Vacation has their own way of living life in the music scene. The six-piece band’s new EP F/E/E/L/S is an incarnation of their efforts to refashion their headline track ロンググッドバイ ‘Long Goodbye’. The latest version rides the waves of 80s city pop, yet still retains the tropical summer vibrancy of their previous takes and resonates the contemporary band sound of today. While we can indulge in ‘Long Goodbye’ as a weekend soundtrack, one must also not forget about the title track ‘Feels’, an infectious retro, synth-pop number that dances on the chequered disco floor and above the glistening mirror ball.

Other Info

  • Poor Vacation’s new EP F/E/E/L/S was released on July 20th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (114) – MINAKEKKE ‘Grateful Dead’

Enter the pulsing yet hypnotic sound world of ‘Grateful Dead’ by female singer-songwriter MINAKEKKE. Dabbling in new wave, shoegaze and punk to name just a few styles, the perpetual drumbeats offset the swirling synths and haunting vocal tones to concoct an utterly spellbinding yet rhythmically infectious vibe under a nocturnal sonic gaze. If you’re seeking an artist that roams about in a dark, mysterious musical fantasy, then MINAKEKKE is one to capture.

Other Info

  • MINAKEKKE’s debut album TINGLES was released on April 26th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #22

  • Iri – ‘Watashi’

It’s been three years since my last trip to Japan, and after the excitement of roaming around the night streets of Shinjuku and Shibuya yesterday, it got me inspired to pick three tunes that glow some great musical vibes along with the neon lights. ‘Watashi’ by Kanagawa-based singer Iri radiates rich electro-pop vibes with its shimmering synth chords and drives through with house and disco energy in the track’s bopping beats and hand claps, making it perfect to amplify the glitter ball atmosphere of the city.

  • ラブリーサマーちゃん Lovely Summer-chan – ‘202 feat. 泉まくら Izumi Makura’

To take things down a notch is ‘202 feat. 泉まくら Izumi Makura’ by ラブリーサマーちゃん Lovely Summer-chan. From her innocent vocals to the rhythm section’s lush harmonies, smooth bass line and groovy guitar riffs, the song oozes soulful warmth that can shine a more reflective neo-soul light in the night stars above the Tokyo skyline.

  • Yahyel – ‘Once’

For an immersive sonic experience, Yahyel is the one to direct your ears towards with tracks like ‘Once’. Meandering through dubstep, synth and dream pop realms, the five-piece band exudes an elusive and serpentine character that sucks the listener’s eardrums into a world of extra-terrestrial gravity with its whirling synth harmonies, heart-pounding drumbeats, seductive vocal colours and effects.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #21

  • DATS – ‘Mobile’

Laden with vintage 90s colours, electro-pop and euro dance beats, ‘Mobile’ by DATS is a refreshing track that can rejuvenate any drained senses in my body. The song surfs the same sonic wavelengths of recent British bands like The 1975 and Disclosure with the quartet’s youthful vocals and the radiant spectrum of synths and beats that penetrate the listener’s eardrums.

  • AAA – ‘Jewel’

While finding hidden gems in the Japanese music scene is important to me, I also enjoy the odd sugar-coated J-pop number, including ‘Jewel’ by the female duo 宇野美彩子 Uno Misako and 伊藤千晃 Ito Chiaki from AAA. This infectious electro-pop tune filled with chic synth colours, seductive vocoder-shaded vocals and bouncing beats features in their latest album WAY OF GLORY, and marks the final chapter of Ito’s journey with AAA as she leaves at the end of March after announcing her pregnancy. Listen to more AAA in my blog posts here.

New York City’ by Tempalay is an absorbing and hypnotic number that may well put listeners in a blissful trance. From the opening perpetual chords to the spellbinding sonic colours that meander throughout the stereo field in serpentine fashion, the band’s signature psychedelic-rock personality comes to full bloom in this beguiling track. ‘New York City’ features in their latest EP 5曲 Gokyoku (‘Five Tracks’). Listen and find out more about Tempalay in my blog posts here.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #19

  • in the blue shirt – ‘toward morning’

Groovy and chilled in equal measure, in the blue shirt (real name 有村陵 Arimura Ryo) coaxes a sound world of meticulous sonic precision in ‘toward morning’. Juggling a rainbow of soulful vocal samples, bitpop-esque beats and hypnotic synths, the track brews a jumble of musical nonsense fit for my lazy Sunday afternoon soundtrack. ‘toward morning’ is the title track of his EP Toward Morning.

  • 宇多田ヒカル Utada Hikaru – 忘却 ‘Boukyaku featuring KOHH’

After six years hidden away from the public eye, 宇多田ヒカル Utada Hikaru returned back into the spotlight last September with her latest album Fantôme. The influential singer-songwriter employs the help KOHH in the track忘却 ‘Boukyaku’. The Japanese rapper delivers a sermon-like narrative over shimmering synths and booming drumbeats, while Utada’s resplendent vocals re-echo the ethereal ambience that glints in the backdrop.

Behind the merry march and Irish folk fiddle vibes of ‘Hey Ho’ by SEKAI NO OWARI lays a message of solidarity. The quirky pop quartet wrote this song in support of the Bremen Project, a campaign to stop the unlawful slaughter of stray animals in Japan. With a charming melange of sunny melodies, march rhythms, folk merriment and a colourful array of instruments, the band sends an uplifting vibe for a cause that they hope will grow for the good. Find out more about SEKAI NO OWARI in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (101) – ぼくのりりっくのぼうよみ Boku no Lyric no Bouyomi ‘Be Noble’

A dramatic contrast to the mellow and soulful vibes of past songs ‘sub/objective’ and ‘newspeak’, ぼくのりりっくのぼうよみ Boku no Lyric no Bouyomi unleashes a fiery drum ‘n’ bass energy in their adrenaline-rushed number ‘Be Noble’. Now a mature university student, one listens to this track and feels as though it’s a coming of age in the singer’s musical visions. ‘Be Noble’ drives a locomotive momentum on the sonic railway with an infectious mix of dazzling synths and guitars, relentless drum rhythms and illuminating vocals.

Other Info

  • Boku no Lyric no Bouyomi’s new album Noah’s Ark was released on January 25th.
  • Hear more tracks by Boku no Lyric no Bouyomi in my blog posts here.

© Isaku Takahashi