AIENU

AIENU: Ambient Electronic Music From Japan

AIENU

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I couldn’t tell you a thing about Japan’s AIENU or his latest album 222, but this is the kind of ambient, Samurai Champloo-like electronic music that works best the less you know about its creator. 222 is a quick listen and very much worth your time to get lost in, even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a “fan” of slower grooves that take its sweet time.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Raft

Raft: “Liberal” Asian Pop From Japan and Thailand

raft

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Raft is (sort of) a j-pop band with a purpose: to establish and promote “Liberal Music,” where music can be made across great distances and overcome any cultural barriers. With members from Japan and Thailand, these self-proclaimed ambassadors of worldly music make sweet and catchy Asian pop.

From Website:

“We are developing a free music concept named ‘LIBERAL MUSIC’ where the music is not limited by boarder, language and style. A music that attracts anyone, anywhere with combination of rock, pop and all other sorts of music.”

Raft: Website Twitter Facebook SoundCloud

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Okamotonoriaki

Okamotonoriaki: mü-nest’s latest release is a remix EP of the Japanese musician’s “Our Happy Ending.”

Okamotonoriaki

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Okamotonoriaki is a Japanese electronic musician and videographer who releases music on Malaysian indie label mü-nest. The original mix of “Our Happy Ending” sounds like the quiet sunrise you find on a long road trip that shares a similar wonder for lonesome peace as Yo La Tengo and Broken Social Scene. This EP includes remixes from recent mü-nest signees Dae Kim, Burnie, and Shuzhen.

From Bandcamp:

“Lonesome can appear to be a tough task to go through in our life. It, sometimes leads us to existence without purpose, find a love one or even death in drastic cases. What comes as a closure from it, can be sometimes harsh or nurture us to be who we are today. And this is what we learnt from okamotonoriaki’s third album, “Happy Ending”.

Our Happy Ending EP consists of three new affiliates of mü-nest, Dae Kim, Burnie and Shuzhen, bringing re-worked versions of the song, expressing different perspective to their happy endings.

Korea-born producer/composer, Dae Kim, captures similar serendipity with the original track. The song is quite susceptible to sappy tendencies and rather pop infused at times. The rhythms are the decorations rather than the element that carries the songs’ momentum, when rather the melodies’ and musical notes create flows and rhythm for the listeners to hold on to. Reminiscing poem subtly lies within the layers of synthesizers.

On the other hand, Burnie, who released his debut album, “Lotus City” last January through 4daz-le Records, offers rather different perspective to the mix. The song introduces itself with a sampled vocals and the poem surrounded by lush synthscapes, collaged narratively. The part that makes this remix comparatively special is when the tastefully constructed beat with well mashed amount of swing emerges into the song. Furthermore, grim yet sentimental distorted ambient guitar shifts its emotion to rather sanguine with xylophones complementing the blend, which shows the Macao producer/DJ’s own closure of the song.

Meanwhile, Shuzhen offers more minimalistic approaches to her epilogue. Classically trained pianist, who arises from Johor Bahru of Malaysia has paved her path to be a composer by collaborating with local artists for variety of different projects. The Johor Bahru composer invigorates her arrangement with subtle soundscapes and the poem. Dramatic tendencies form itself through uplifting yet bittersweet phased chords of piano slowly fading in. When the drums fades out to present contrasting synthscapes, which elaborate themselves to form complex yet sumptuous kaleidoscope of sound which reflects her distinctive feminine sensitivity.

What separates us from one to another is how we define a happy ending. For some, what defines a happy ending would be a success in life, whereas for some, it is simply to get a taste of their favorite meal. Perhaps, the happiest ending possible in our life is in us. To truly understand ourselves and what lies ahead of us.”

Okamotonoriaki: Website SoundCloud Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Moe Meguro

Moe Meguro: “Crosby, Stills & Nash meets Cap’n Jazz”

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I appreciate any Bandcamp bio that simply states “Crosby, Stills & Nash meets Cap’n Jazz,” yet Moe Meguro go the extra mile and actually pull off the description. The three band members are based around the world and each musician brings part of their home to the blend. My guess: Joseph “Jojo” Brandel, from Yokohama, Japan, brings the math-rock emo riffs; Bernie Gelman, from Austin, TX, brings the hazy drive; and Logan Bean, from California, brings the sunny pop harmonies. Extra points to the band for covering ‘Walls And Bridges’-era John Lennon with “#9 Dream.”

From the band:

“With band members scattered over six thousand miles apart across two continents and a name borrowed from the Japanese Olympic curling champion, Moe Meguro is a melting pot of disparate styles. The 3-piece band consisting of Joseph Brandel and Bernie Gelman on guitars and Logan Bean on drums (with all three members covering vocal duty) convenes once or twice a year to write, rehearse, and record music back on their home turf in the Bay Area, California. Over that short span of time, the band collaborates on crafting intricate, sonically lush music drawing from Beatles-tinged power pop laced with harmonies to hazy shoegaze and a bit of math rock.”

Moe Meguro: Bandcamp Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Kikagaku Moyo

Kikagaku Moyo: “feeling good music” that channels sitars and Krautrock

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On April 21st, Kikagaku Moyo‘s self-titled 2013 debut will be reissued via Guruguru Brain Records, a Tokyo label that focuses on the Asian underground. And for all my fellow Brooklynites, the band will be at Rough Trade on May 4th via Aquarium Drunkard.

From the band’s Bandcamp:

“Kikagaku Moyo’s debut album exerts an elemental power. Enlivening their sound with sitars, percussive drums, theremins, wind instruments and ethereal vocals, the band manages to sound powerfully spacious and lazily serene all at once. Their songs can be light as air, or heavy as earth. Many evolve out of intense experiences of engagement with the natural world. The album’s first track, ‘Can You Imagine Nothing?’ was written over a night spent jamming on a suspended footbridge in remote mountains. As the song progressed the bridge began to sway, making band members feel as though they were floating weightless in midair.

Kikagaku Moyo started in the summer of 2012 busking on the streets of Tokyo. Though the band started as a free music collective, it quickly evolved into a tight group of multi-instrumentalists. Kikagaku Moyo call their sound psychedelic because it encompasses a broad spectrum of influence. Their music incorporates elements of classical Indian music, Krautrock, Traditional Folk, and 70s Rock. Most importantly their music is about freedom of the mind and body and building a bridge between the supernatural and the present. Improvisation is a key element to their sound.”

Kikagaku Moyo: Website Facebook Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Takara Digital Records

Takara Digital Records: Japanese hip-hop label that releases rare and unreleased music

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Takara Digital Records is a Japanese hip-hop label that releases rare and unreleased music, founded last year by Yuzuru Kishi. The next release is ‘More Donuts’:

“‘More Donuts’ is a compilation of even more rare, remixed and unreleased instrumentals by the king of beats J Dilla. The release is seperated in two parts. Part 1 was recorded around 1998 and Part 2 around 1996, now digitally available.”

Takara Digital Records: Bandcamp

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Number Girl

Number Girl

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Number Girl was an acclaimed and influential Japanese emo band active in the late ’90s and early Aughts. The band’s second album and major label debut, School Girl Distortional Addict, came out in 1999, but it sounds perfect for 2016. Funny how certain albums come back into the spotlight with all these “revivals.” Read more on the band’s history via Pitchfork.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Metoronori

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Remember the first time you heard ‘Kid A’ and all those sounds came out of nowhere and it was disorienting but beautiful and moving? I felt the same way listening to Metoronori for the first time, and the second time, and the 100th time. ‘Poolscape’ is out now via Virgin Babylon Records and it’s only four songs long, but each song is so distinct and strange that you’ll want to hear more if only just to hear what else this artist is capable of doing.

Metoronori: Bandcamp Twitter

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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Universe Nekoko & Lovely Summer Chan

Universe Nekoko

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“Divine Hammer” is an older collaboration between Universe Nekoko and Lovely Summer Chan, two great Japanese acts that don’t have a large presence on the Internet except for this new music video. The video was directed by Anise Mariko and Yumiko Kobayashi and stars Abi Laurel, a New York City-based art director, animator, and VJ. In the video, she takes a train to Tokyo and explores the city with Elleanor Yamaguchi to the sound of lovely Japanese indie-pop that wouldn’t sound out of place in Lost In Translation.

I agree with Make Believe Melodies in that the music video is refreshingly upbeat and not the typical downer you get with most shoegaze-sounding music. Superhero Mag also points out that this was a special international collaboration between artists in New York and Tokyo. Speaking of collaboration, where is this train that’ll take me from New York to Tokyo? I must find it now.

Universe Nekoko: SoundCloud

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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The Pillows – “Ride on Shooting Star”

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Year: 2003

Album: FLCL Original Soundtrack

Last month, the news broke that FLCL, an anime that found cult fame in the United States during its lone 6-episode season in 2003, was getting two more seasons. This was a good time for me to sit down and watch the entire series, because FLCL (pronounced in English “Fooly Cooly”) is, like The Sopranos or The Wire, a show you talk about more than you watch. Upon my first full viewing and following another binge watch through the series, I could confirm that the show’s zany animation and surprisingly thoughtful plot lived up to its own growing hype.

FLCL is a coming of age story following 12-year-old Naota Nandaba living peacefully in a quiet Japanese suburb until an alien, riding a yellow vespa, crashes down to earth and hits Naota on the head with a bass guitar that opens up a magical portal in which giant robots come out and try to destroy the town. But of course it’s all an analogy for growing up and dealing with the awkward stages of puberty while juggling friends, family, and romance. Duh.

Like Neon Genesis Evangelion, the point of watching is not to understand the plot but to watch the interactions between all these characters, all of whom reveal plenty of emotional baggage that isn’t too far off from real life. It’s a lively and often surreal trip that may be too much for someone not familiar with anime (Cowboy Bebop might be more your speed), but the gonzo humor blended with a compelling and relatable plot makes FLCL a rewarding viewing. The fighting robots are fun to watch too.

Most of the show’s music, including its closing theme “Ride on Shooting Star,” was recorded by Japanese rock band The Pillows, and their guitar-driven J-Pop is a lot of fun to listen to, and it perfectly matches the animation. Now that Grimes has made J-Pop, or at least her interpretation of it, somewhat more popular among the hipsters, it’d be a good idea to get on top of FLCL now before it blows up in America.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber
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