Monday 7 October 2013


Last time I heard from Tokyo duo N-qia it was their collaboration with Italian producer Neeva for the song 'One Day' on his Even If... EP. That particular song offered up orchestration and melody in the midst of an EP fraught with deep, dark sounds - my favourite out of all the tracks on it in fact. So naturally I wanted to follow up and see what N-qia were doing now.

Turns out they're doing an album. Doing, making, whatever, but an album is imminent from these two. Yep, producer Takma (aka solo artist Serph) and vocalist Nozomi will be releasing Fringe Popcical 26th October on Japanese label Virgin Babylon Records. Until then, we have the following songs taken from that upcoming release with which to enjoy ourselves.

First off there's 'Shootingstar', the perfect showcase to this duo's style of alternative, "unexplored" pop. With Takma providing staccato MIDI-esque guitar sounds alongside soaring clouds of bleeps, the track runs as a house tune with the four-to-the-floor beat thumping below. There are plenty of moments where the song breaks, like sunlight through clouds, to provide bright piano work, chords that conjure the smell after summer rain, the consequent glitter of golden sun on soaking pavements.

Nozomi's vocals are stunning, urgent whispers often in monotone that gives a sharp humanity to the coastline of complex sounds that Takma lays down, adding contrast with her slow, considered style against the frenetic percussive and melodic patterns of the song; her voice offering up a subtle starkness with its layered and sometime-harmonising mist of hush.

They're even more haunting in the dramatic track 'Tree', where they shoot through like rapid cross-hatchings of vapor trails. Here they follow the melody of the song, which is one seemingly struck with powerful notions of human cohabitation with nature (that's what I imagine, anyway). Her style is one in which her voice holds onto each single note with lingering love, so each change up or down is breathtakingly vivid.

The video for this track features what resemble Balinese shadow puppets; the music, too, is reminiscent of the orchestra of instruments that usually accompanies these traditional shows, the gamelan. The percussion in the song is lush and clattering and is supported by a rich sea of plucked strings, a modern day gamelan if ever there was one. Takma seems to be at his best when the sounds he creates are most compositional, orchestral, and the strings, flute-like noises and soft synth vox sounds he weaves together are perfect evidence of this. The beat in this track, especially when it first comes in, is something that cannot be ignored, either - it's addictive and effective. What else can I say but that this is a beautiful track with an equally beautiful video.

The album Fringe Popicical sounds as if it is going to be a wonderful collection of well-composed, gloriously percussive tracks inspirited with visitations of ethereal vocals. Look out for it. Well I will be looking out for it so you could just look out for my own look-out, ok?

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