Lots of good music came out of Japan in September, but keeping track of it all can be a challenge, especially for those living outside of the island. Don’t sweat it, we've highlighted a few Japanese releases well worth hunting down...
Oomori Seiko “Muteki”
In recent years, Tokyo’s Oomori Seiko has stood out thanks to a cathartic approach to music contained by no single genre. She’s jumped from rock to EDM to folk balladry, with all sorts of emotional stops along the way. Muteki takes her back to her early days, though. The collection finds Seiko self-covering herself, playing older cuts in her catalog using just acoustic guitar (and an occasional drizzling of other instruments). This is how she started her career, not to mention how the bulk of her revelatory early live performances went, with her strumming and howling alone on stage, and Muteki highlights the lyrical intricacy of these songs while also reminding just how captivating her singing can be. Listen to one of the new songs included (that actually isn’t like that) below:
Yasuaki Shimizu “Music For Commercials”
Commercial jingles might not initially seem like the playground of experimental Japanese musicians, but the 1980s were quite a strange time. Music For Commercials shows how brief melodies can prove intricate. Originally released in 1987, this reissue of the rare collection centers around Yasuaki Shimizu; a celebrated artist best known for fronting the outfit Mariah. He did a lot of work for ads, and this collects a lot of them, and shows just how out-there even music intended for Bridgestone can get!
Wonk “Castor” And “Pollux”
Hey, two for the price of one, that’s nice. Wonk has generated a lot of buzz over the last few years thanks to their ability to mix genre together into a laid-back, at times experimental blend. These two full-lengths, released at the start of the month, highlight what makes the band unique. Songs such as “Midnight Cruise” aren’t far removed from the breezy throwback styles dominating the sounds of rock in Japan circa 2017, but across this pair of releases Wonk hit on jazz, bring in guest rappers and create numbers that feel seconds from collapsing in on themselves. The building blocks sound familiar, but they keep things strange.
Paellas “D.R.E.A.M. EP”
Speaking of the breezy throwback style dominating the sounds of rock in Japan circa 2017, Paellas offer a nice subversion on it across their D.R.E.A.M. EP. The big talking points were hit on before, but the six songs here really expand on this after-midnight vibe. All the hallmarks of modern Japanese rock - funky rhythms, tight bass slaps, higher-pitched singing - becomes menacing and lonely here. And all the better for it.
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