Lots of good music came out of Japan in June, but keeping track of it all can be a challenge, especially for those living outside of the island. Don’t sweat it, in this monthly column, we highlight a few Japanese releases well worth hunting down...
Suzuki Mamiko’s Deep Green EP
The first EP from Tokyo-based rapper Suzuki Mamiko is deceptively laid back. Deep Green’s four original numbers find Mamiko - who is also a member of the hip-hop duo Chelmico - verbally gliding over relaxed beats constructed from guitar notes and jazzy bass notes. It’s an easy-going fare, the sort of music apt for soundtracking a barbecue at dusk or an afternoon drive with no intended destination. Yet Mamiko flows over the music with a confidence and wit that the hammock-ready sound betrays. Listen to “Blue” below.
Snail’s House Ordinary Songs 3
Producer Snail’s House has been getting a lot of attention online for his electronic music, which leans heavily on bell chimes, xylophone notes and breezy synthesizer notes. Many have called what the Tokyo creator does “kawaii” (or “cute”) but that’s selling Snail’s House a bit short. Ordinary Songs 3 highlights just why. Songs such as “Good Day” are packed with video game samples and upbeat melodies, yet these details add warmth to songs prone to zigging and zagging in all sorts of directions. What this release really highlights is what a talented composer Snail’s House is.
Tamaki Roy Nagi
Plenty of good-to-great Japanese rap music has emerged over the last couple of years, as renewed interest in the genre has bubbled up in the mainstream. Yet Tamaki Roy’s Nagi sounds special, and might be the new wave’s first masterpiece. Rather than simply imitate the sounds of American hip-hop in a cut-copy fashion that makes one wonder why they don’t just listen to the original stuff, he creates a wonky and at times disorienting album full of skittery synth lines and pitch-shifted vocals. Listen to “Harari” below.
Yokohama producer ΔKTR (pronounced “actor” for those curious) takes snippets of music and uncovers entire new angles to them, sometimes on a molecular level. Lala is a stuffed-tight collection showing off his process, featuring funk samples turned inside out and transformed into something new (but just as body moving). For those who enjoy musical reconstruction, this one's for you.
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