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.

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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

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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

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Nasty Wizard Recordings

Nasty Wizard Recordings: the diverse sounds of modern pan-Asian shoegaze, all in one compilation

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I think I found a new favorite label – Nasty Wizard Recordings is a Beijing-based label that specializes in a range of noisy and out-there underground music (self-described by the label as “mostly evil music”). Last year they put out a release featuring HN favorites Chinese Football, so you know they’ve got great taste.

The label’s latest release is a collection of songs from some of pan-Asia’s most beloved modern shoegaze bands.

From Bandcamp:

“This May the gnarliest tape label in China, Nasty Wizard Recordings, is back with their first epic release of the year, a pan-Asian compilation of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Japan’s shoegaze scenes. We’re talking ground zero for the blistering, reverb-drenched genre that has taken the continent by storm over the past few years! Featuring tracks from Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Xi’an the Asia Shoegaze Compilation Vol. 1 is a must have for anyone looking to get their head lost in the clouds.

With a love for making destructive noises with their guitars and array of electronic effects, Tokyo’s Oeil has been a constant presence in the Japanese shoegaze scene for over a decade, and while the band has been relatively quiet since their widely popular 2014 EP ‘Myrtle’ we were fortunate enough to have them share two of their latest tracks.

Next up it wouldn’t be a shoegaze comp without a bittersweet farewell. The Pillow Man, a trio out of Hangzhou, otherwise loftily known as ‘Paradise on Earth’ didn’t even make it to two years as a band. However that fleeting, affecting touch is captured brilliantly in the band’s few surviving tunes.

We then head down to the Pearl of the Orient aka. Hong Kong where Sea of Tranquility has been creating dreamy shoegaze pop since 2014. The five-piece, with an abundance of piercing guitar noise and pulsating reverb, continues to convey the starry romance of the genre to ravenous listeners.

Finally, we head to the old Qing Dynasty capital of China where Xi’an’s Endless White resides. The young quartet, fresh off their debut EP, relishes in jangly guitar work, wispy vocals, and sublime walls of sound that engulf the band and enrapture your ears — the perfect closer.

Links below to Hangzhou’s The Pillow Man, Tokyo’s Oeil, Hong Kong’s The Sea of Tranquility, and Xi’an’s Endless White”

Nasty Wizard Recordings: Facebook SoundCloud

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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

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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

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Takara Digital Records

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

takara digital records

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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