Wednesday 30 September 2015


What first struck me about this track is its delicious noises – the sumptuous tongue-twizzling ear-tickling sounds at the upper end of the spectrum trickling and bouncing, eye-poppingly alive and full of the essence of found sounds: actual real world sounds put into music.

What is it? It's called 'Being With You' and it's by Mincha a musicmaker from Bordeaux, France. Aside from the noises I mentioned above – the subversive opulence of broken glass, running or maybe even boiling water, a crunchy noise that sounds like someone taking a huge bite out of an apple, little insectoid metallic noises, sharp ticking hi-hats – it is propelled forward by a broken garage-flavoured rhythm, offbeat thudding kicks working alongside syncopated cleanly clacking snare hits, supported by the constant cascade of percussion, resulting in a highly kinetic vibe.

On top of this shuffling beat we alternate between icy, atmospheric feeling – with cymbals shimmering silver into the void, slivers of synth providing cold singular hits, gentle phasing sounds, soft muted bloops, the occasional smart jazzy flourish of double-bass, unintelligible vocal samples echoing in the freezing expansive frame of the track – and something more intense, with just-as-icy synths skirling with slow trance flavour, piercing the cloudy atmosphere with angular sides

The whole thing ending with rich piano to round off what has been a voyage into a cosmos of unknown twinkling objects, an outpost of cleansing energy in cold, dark space; a tale of deeply nocturnal dance music, highlighting the unknown echoes of the night and thoughtful introspection with a collision of styles and an impressive inventory of imaginative ornamentation.

Mincha Social Media Presence ☟

Monday 28 September 2015


三毛猫ホームレス or Mikeneko Homeless (that's "homeless tortoiseshell cat") is a musicmaking duo from Tokyo composed of Tokinori Kakimoto, a double bassist and composer who also makes music as mochilon, and Masahiro Oba aka hironica. These two have teamed up with singer Lulu to come up with the instant infatuation of 'Watermelon', a supremely bouncy and immediately likeable musical morsel that speaks of … how funny; I was just about to write that it speaks of crisp autumn days and the continuance of the early days of a developing romance, a tale begun and spun during the hot and humid hours of summer, when I read in the description of the track on SoundCloud: "Where you and me will be when autumn comes?"

And really, since this sort of sentiment is what came to mind when listening to the song – even without understanding the lyrics – you can say that the trio have achieved certainly asked the above question with their music.

In fact, it is a story told in different parts; firstly beginning with a cascade jazzy synth chords and tumbling rapid-fire acoustic guitar arpeggios; secondly launching into a jaunty upbeat chorus with fluttering synths soaring up to meet it, playful vocal melodies skipping over the dop-dop-dop-dop of chipper chords; thirdly we skim into a part where chords cushion a scorchingly modulated bleepy solo melody, the beat slow and evocative with virtuoso hi-hat rolls; fourthly, the realisation part – where perhaps what went before in summer will not carry on as days become chilly and leaves curl and crisp, falling orange and red – Lulu's melody is slower, emotional, the chords softer, gentler, rippling vacant and numb, you especially notice it in the song's final part, with Lulu singing wordless "ahhh-aa-aa…", a slight lament at unforseeable futures, unpredictable circumstances.

Even without paying this much attention, this is a sumptuous slice of electronic-flavoured, atmospheric, sunny-meets-chilly atmosphere-summoning music, the vocals by Lulu compelling, subtly harmonised at times, flustered with romance and uncertainty against the virtuoso nu-shibuya-kei city pop vibe effused from Mineneko Homeless; it seeps into your head, inspiring happiness as much as a pang of doubt in the heart.

Lulu Social Media Presence ☟

mochilon Social Media Presence ☟

hironica Social Media Presence ☟

Friday 25 September 2015


'Tears that led to our end'. It's a very sad title, a six-word micro-story that tells you everything you need to know: there was sadness – hence the tears – and there was an ending of what we can assume was a relationship. Instantly there's a snapshot of long talks, grey skies, the dullness of the world from the perspective of the speaker, the impending doom of it all, the hours stretched out ahead in unending fathoms of solitude.

Very melodramatic, I know I know, but that's how it feels – and that's just going from the title of this track by Muhrochka. It's difficult to get much information about this guy, but we can abduce that he's from Russia somewhere, thanks to a link (albeit not working) to a profile on VK, which is basically Russia's Facebook. 'Tears that led to our end' is eight months old but it's of no consequence: the track sounds how it sounds regardless of time.

So what does it actually sound like? It's chiptuney, that's for sure – "fakebit" as it's been tagged. To a flailing set of hi-hats, marshy snares and pulsing kicks, a muffled tide of droning, damaged synth sounds judders in a fuzzy whirlwind: an immediate landscape of hardy metallic greyscale, dark teal waves cresting and crashing in a storm of static. Decaying clusters of bleeps play fluid notes over the top, alternating with sparse and plaintive booping sounds soaring in the bright murk of it all, like a brave face in the wake of anguish.

Melancholy, gloomy, introspective – these words would all fit Muhrochka's song, but there's something other than that, something vital about the track, something alive and beating at its core. Though it spins a sad orbit in your mind, this song is by no means downbeat – as much as it charts an unchangeable series of events, it also serves as a record of courageous acceptance, an illustration of hope.

Muhrochka Social Media Presence ☟ Bandcamp

Tuesday 22 September 2015


Ready to go on a journey of jostling energy, drink a cup of urgency pressed and bottled in the chilly Japanese city of Sapporo, elbow your way into some space on the dancefloor and buss out the hardiest and most robust of your two-stepping prowess? Because that's what you're gonna get with 'Public Enemy' by BUDDHAHOUSE.

I've already mentioned the city, but yes, BUDDHAHOUSE is a self-professed "DJ, beatmaker" from Sapporo, which is on the "wild frontier" island of Hokkaido, Japan. And this track, like I mentioned, is a wonder of energy and urgency, of no-nonsense, no-frills, wild dance-only music.

Dissect it and you'll find – within a dynamic ebb and flow of drops and build-ups – its punchy punchy kicks, its marching snare drums urging you abrasively into rowdy dancefloor formation, rolling toms adding warlike pugilistic flavour, jangling jingling scathing hi-hat noises crashing together like a box sharpened swords going down a slide, its cutting synth chord pattern sweeping over the bustling bang of the beat. Shuddering galloping aggressive house with retro ornamentation; imagine someone breakdancing to this in the snow at the side of a road as confused cars slow down to watch.

Two great parts: at 2:53, a turntablist record scratch bookends a slice of slow amen beat bustle, before the shout of "Somebody in the house say 'yeah!'", which is sampled from Public Enemy's 'Caught, Can We Get A Witness?' and thus giving BUDDHAHOUSE's track its name.

And from 4:28 onwards, where there's this tiny rising-and-falling bleepy melody that really really reminded me of the tiny bleepy melody in the breakdown bit of the theme for Stage 2 from Streets of Rage.

BUDDHAHOUSE Social Media Presence ☟

Monday 21 September 2015


Sampling. Love it or hate it, morally and ethically against it or freespiritedly laissez-faire about it all, when it's done well it's as impressive as any outstanding virtuoso performance on any other pre-existing instrument. So there.

As such, it's fitting to introduce In the blue shirt, a musicmaker and sampling-er of supra-decent proportions who is from Kyoto, Japan. Real name Ryo Arimura, this producer is certainly a big deal, or at least that's what I can gather from listening to his recent track 'in and out' over and over again, gluing it to my ears, injecting it into my brain like a syringeful of dance-inducing nanites. ha ha.

I'm currently listening to it in a semi-busy café and this is the kind of atmosphere that 'in and out' not only fits but also exudes itself; the rapid-fire sliced 'n' diced samples – featuring everything from chopped up wibbling vocals and what sounds like dialogue from an anime, to snippets of guitar and string strains in a jostling mélange of sound, creates the feeling of hubbub, the merging voices of a crowd, cut up chatter chatter chitter chatter.

But you add to this ruckus of samples a groovesome bassline, deep and rounded, plus an uptempo unrelenting kick 'n' snappy disco hi-hat combo, jangling percussion for garage-esque syncopation and you get a rainy-night-in-the-city (brake lights glowing, neon signs twinkling, buildings inching like columns of stars in the half-darkness) vibe. Flashing retro dancefloors live in the essence of this dynamic song, moving through different sample clusters and beat patterns – most obviously at the 2:25 mark, sweet pastel-coloured alcohol, sleek dressed chirruping feel-good crowds two-stepping all the way home with this track lodged in their hearts.

In the blue shirt Social Media Presence ☟

Friday 18 September 2015


Here is a lovely slice of music courtesy of Eriko Toyoda, a Japanese artist whom I stumbled upon a couple of years ago. Her previous work has been marked by glitch-laden production, which makes this relatively stripped-back song, 'Seductive Eyes / Because You Wanted It', a surprise refreshment for the ears.

It is characterised for the most part by a guitar chord progression played on loop, muted tones in a bossa nova rhythm, soothing and soft, though tinged with a certain empty sadness, like looking back on heartbreak or unrequited love from a perspective of lonesome calm.

One of the song's tags, alongside "loop station", is "broken microphone" – and if this refers to the actual microphone being broken, well, it's a great effect; Toyoda's voice ends up with this thin, metallic quality which, whilst giving it a stylised delicacy, also gives it the sense of being recorded in a very DIY fashion, adding endless romance to the song. She lays down arresting harmonies as she sings the song's refraining lyrics – "I try to forget those seductive eyes" – which by the end of the track becomes a cloud cushion of ear-satisfying richness, occasionally different lines weaving through one another in an impressive show of polyphony.

Add to this ornamentations in the guitar parts, gently sweeping, lightly plucked arpeggios, giving it a dreamy and expansive feel, as well as softened lines of sparse just-discernible guitar melody, and decorations in her vocals – with a brief moment of subtle delay added later in the song, as well as it ending with an ebb and flow of wordless duetting as the guitar pauses playing random ambient notes – and the song is complete: a languorous poem painting a far-off memory of romance, told with a simple and evocative looping guitar accompaniment.

Eriko Toyoda Social Media Presence ☟

Saturday 12 September 2015


Here is a nice new bit of music from a new musicmaker called Capchii. They are ostensibly from Tokyo – there's no way to verify that, of course, so let's just go with it. Tokoyo-based musicmaker or let's say producer called Capchii. The katakana given on SoundCloud for the name is カプチー, which I'm presuming is just a shortened form of カプチーノ which is the katakana for cappuccino. Coffee, especially in its foamier incarnation as denoted here, has a homely, cosmopolitan feel about it, and connotes being something like fluidly urban. Truncate cappuccino to Capchii and you add an extra dimension of cuteness – fitting for someone whose Twitter bio says "I like bass and cute music."

But aside from these thoughts spilling without much care onto this keyboard and typing these words, the morsel of music that has been created by this coffee-themed producer for a lil spotlight today is called 'Something'.

Something! Pulsing kicks drive this along throughout its duration, a bassy beat also featuring a combined snare-handclap that sounds like a watermelon being smashed, or maybe a heavy hardback book bellyflopping into a puddle, specifically a puddle glittering in the wet sunlight after a rainstorm. Bubbling sounds pop in the background. A simple looping piano melody, something unmistakably jolly and upbeat, is a sign of things to come.

Gradually other instruments join in to form a cavalcade of positivity; soft sub-bass begins to ebb and flow beneath it all, acoustic guitars play chirpy arpeggios, jaunty strings singing out, high pitched synth melodies intertwine with one another, weaving in and out like little birds zooming around together on a sunny afternoon, the inexplicable heavy haze of distorted guitar providing strips of abrasion here and there, which adds a confounding element to what is otherwise a lesson in the progression of different instruments in a semi-classical setting.

It's a compound of sculpted percussive parts and of whimsical melodies, resulting in a winsome piece of music with clear direction; seemingly untainted by genre or pretence, it's fresh and lively, like catching a glimpse of a small dog trotting happily along. Cute, but not obviously so – not the collective vision of cuteness, but a personal one, illustrated for our own hearts to enjoy.

Capchii Social Media Presence ☟

Tuesday 8 September 2015


Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee… and more specifically, it tolls for Spazzkid. Hear the clanging knell kneading the air like vast clouds rolling through valleys, the ding dang dong of another musicmaking moniker moored at the banks of the ever-flowing river, never to plough through waves again.

But don't worry, Mark Redito is still around. After much consideration, the man himself decided to shed his Spazzkid moniker and just stick with his irl birth name. Specifically, aside from artistic growth, new directions and feeling as if what he's making now is quite different to what he's making now, it's to do with the offensiveness of the very name "Spazzkid", and "undergoing scrutiny" because of it – even if he was originally just named after a band.

"After careful research into the various uses of the word “spaz” as a derogatory term," he writes via email. "I no longer feel comfortable representing my music and art with a term that has the power to hurt a large group of people. While it was never my intention to offend anyone, I owe every person aggrieved by my old moniker a heartfelt apology, and this is just that. I’m sorry."

To mark (haha) this change we have a new track, heralding the turning of a page to a new chapter in the story that is the music of Mark Redito. It surfaced on Ryan Hemsworth-run, friends-only, not-a-label-but-a-SoundCloud-platform Secret Songs and it's called '3am Apologies'.

The first thing that sprang to mind whilst listening to this was festival music. Not any old festival music, but traditional music from the Japanese festival of Obon (or just Bon), held in summertime across Japan to honour the dead. What took me there? The swaying feel and dizzyily offbeat melodies of '3am Apologies' match those of the music that goes with bon odori i.e. "bon dance" – I say the music, but there are as many different variations of this dance as there are major regions and cities in Japan; perhaps it's akin to the awa odori of Tokushima on Shikoku, or maybe it's closer to Kagoshima's ohara bushi. Either way, there's a fair spot of considered delirium at work in '3am Apologies', which made me think of Bon.

Added to this inebriated festival atmosphere is a heavily swaggering dub-flavoured rhythm, further highlighting a decidedly beat-themed foray for the first venture as Mark Redito, and ornamented with countless drum ad-libs that roll and rollick with virtuosic energy, yet that feel blissfully restrained by the slow, oozingly oscillating rhythm. Swathes of fizzing synth cushion piercing lines of melody, all of it rising together in a richly layered crescendo that takes previous elements and arranges them in a model of harmony, each part slotting where it should having been individually introduced earlier on. Mark sings on the track, too, his voice sprinkled with emotion and far-off, as if a dream or previous introspection being reflected upon.

We dream with him, in the giddy ambience and half-crazed steadiness of '3am Apologies', swept along by sheets of synth – sometimes airy and ethereal, sometimes buzzing and intense – bouncing onward with the skillfully-crafted elastic organic beats as if being jostled through a crowd.

Mark Redito Social Media Presence ☟

Monday 7 September 2015


I'm writing about this track because it is good and it made me feel happy when I first heard it. Maybe it's more that the track sounds happy and so swathed me in a metaphysical cloud of happiness whilst I listened, and also: is it even possible for any music to be qualitatively, objectively "bad"? These are my thoughts.

What is this track? 'Dumfun'. It's a fun name, isn't it? I don't know what it means, perhaps a neat contraction of a sentiment akin to "mindless fun" but what's in a name? Huh? What's in a name? Sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much. And it's by the well-named Fork and Knife (maybe named after the Brand New demo of the same name?), a musicmaker from London who is also a co-founder of collective/label Not Like That.

And you're wondering, what's so damn fun about 'Dumfun'? It's the whole journey, the whole humble odyssey of the track, that makes it not only interesting on a musical level but also, yes, a fun listen. It keeps you on your toes. Even after a few listens I'm like, "oh this part?" Its spontaneous structure is a good thing indeed.

It begins with squiffy far-off synths that equally could be the intro to some big trance song, yet it grows and graduates through glassy, popping decorations, adding big reverbing snares – rapid-fire droplets of which serve as ornamentations later on – and thudding kicks, then jumping up into a side-to-side head-tilt kinda rhythm; very bouncy, and supplemented with blooms of sub-bass. Cutesy synth vox spin simple melodies throughout sprinkled with wah-wah, and gleaming streaks of synth chords sweep steadily beneath, spreading their heartwarming glitterations alongside the occasional sample of children cheering, further exemplifying the feeling of joy that dwells at the heart of this track.

It's not exactly dancefloor-destined, not precisely pop, not wholly videogame music, but rather Fork and Knife has meted out a combination of all three. There are minor changes you could make to it to attach it more extensively to each one of those labels, but why think about that? Why think about the potential when it already exists in the state in which it exists: as a composite, genreless slice of electronic fun.

Fork and Knife Social Media Presence ☟

Friday 4 September 2015


ATMOSPHERE. Atmosphere is a big deal. Without atmosphere, or ambiance if you will, cocktail lounges would not feel chilled out yet classy at the same time, forests would not effuse as much peacefulness as they do, a spa would not be as relaxing, theme parks would not be as exciting — put simply, atmosphere is important. And, if you didn't notice, the link between all those aforementioned places is sound. or MUSIC. Music creates atmosphere. One might just like singing along to music, or dancing to it, but, perhaps unbeknownst to the singer or dancer, these things are being acted out in the midst of ambiance or atmosphere conjured by music; it affects not only an individual mood, but the mood of an entire locale, wherever the music is in earshot. It is the particular character of our surroundings.

Why am I talking so much about atmosphere? Because of nice morsel of music I stumbled across over the weekend. Le morceau est creé par un producteur français qui s'appelle loto retina, et le son s'appelle «première séance». Alors, l'anglophone pourrait assumer «séance» en le sens de «séance de spiritisme» – en fait, je fait exactement ça! Donc je l'ai écouté, attendant pour quelque chose fantasmagorique, mais plûtot j'entendis des sons beaux ondulant, des melodies flous répétant – l'atmosphère divine de la musique lo-fi.

Whoa, what happened there? That was weird.

But anyway, loto retina has shared his "first session" not his first "seance", which would have been decidedly more spooky than a session (of musicmaking). It's a little old, 4 months says SoundCloud, but that's neither here nor there. The sounds of 'première séance' are hypnotic, a combination of lightly undulating melodies soaked in dreamy delay, and one-note bassy rumblings beneath these fluttering sounds, all of it soaked in gorgeous soft lo-fi aesthetics.

The first section, for there is one – marked by a strange dinosaur screech or synth-made scream – is brighter, rising higher than the second goes, which for the most part follows a mesmerising loop (except for one cutesy melody standing out at the 2:19 mark) all the way till this sweet little track's end, where it is beset by monstrous scathing mechanical noises, metallic analogue vocal chords shouting, and where the sounds become slightly distorted, muffled, mangled, finishing up a relaxing and intriguing sojourn into a world of pure, innocent atmosphere.

loto retina Social Media Presence ☟

Tuesday 1 September 2015


Last we heard from Japanese musicmakers Crystal they had just released their Get It EP on Sound Pellegrino. Comprising Ryota Miyake (aka Sparrows), Keita Onishi and Sunao Maruyama, the trio make collage-like sounds, forward-thinking sonic explorations with retro sensibilities; they've even done VGM-flavoured versions of traditional Japanese songs before – for instance, check out their version of 'Haru no Umi', an ubiquitous song played around New Year in Japan.

Crystal's latest EP Monsoon arrives courtesy of friendly Tokyo-based label, flau – perhaps since music made under Miyake's Sparrows moniker has been previously released by the label. The tracks on Monsoon, says flau, "embody that fun 2D summer feeling with distinct video games aesthetics," and really, this is for the most part an excellent description. The four-track EP contains jostling gems reflecting different facets of summer; there's the delicious horizontal tropical beach feel of 'Low-Pressure', the uptempo billowing fun-fest of 'Typhoon' (sounding a lot like the music from the Bonus Stage in Sonic 2), the manic galloping-tumbling sounds of 'Monsoon', summoning the seeming irrationality, unreasonable heaviness, of a monsoon, with an aesthetic and general feel that reminded me of the music from Dynamite Headdy.

But then there's also 'Midi In The Cloud'.

Rather than focus on different aspects of the weather and its effects, like 'Typhoon', 'Monsoon', 'Low-Pressure', this one instead whisks us up into the sky, into the clouds – true to its name; both in this sense, and in that it paints a picture with predominantly MIDI-leaning sounds. From bubbling, glitchy computer-like noises, the chirrupings of insects and animals in trees, we float higher and higher, up into a contemplative gently soaring atmosphere whilst serenaded by a metallic disembodied voice. Supported by robust foundations of slap bass and swaying-ship bass, and decorated with nuanced bloops jiggling around with portions of steel pan, expansive all-encompassing birds-eye-view string sections provide giant dynamic wings on which we softly fly around the sky. (Imagine if the boat from Super Mario 64 level Rainbow Ride got loose and floated into the big blue of a midday horizon).

The VGM influences here on Crystal's Monsoon EP, given the two games its been compared with above, are not only ever-present, they are subtle. It's not like these are exact copies – they are made with the same spirit; the same desire for the creation of different atmospheres, the use of non-serious, playful sounds, the joy of experimentation outside of regular song structure. The EP artwork, with the Chaos Emerald-esque jewel, the palm tree, the crystal rods and spheres of rain, the skewed crossing, tells a similar story — combined with the sound, this music stands not exactly between fantasy and reality, but more firmly in the former, still with eyes trained on the real world as if it were the true oddity in the twoness of our modern day existence.

☟ Social Media Presence ☟
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