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Sticky: TAAR Featuring Iri “Come Together” And Iri’s “Watashi”

Turning back towards the ’80s, when it comes to Japanese music, is (or, depending where you stand, still is) the in style. But the areas explored in Japan proper and abroad are very different. Outside of the country, there is a new-found embrace of Japanese ambient and neighboring sounds, highlighted by the recent attention given Portland outfit Visible Cloaks and a steady stream of celebrated reissues. Domestically, though, it is all about disco and funk sounds from the same era, cemented by the massive success last year of Hoshino Gen’s “Koi.” And music, both mainstream pop and just under the radar, continues to embrace that sound.

Iri has found herself getting a bit more attention of late with this sound, and in the past few days has been a part of two solid dance-pop cuts. The first comes alongside Tokyo producer TAAR on “Come Together,” disco at a steady stroll where Iri’s voice works in tandem with TAAR’s beat, apt for the early evening stroll thanks to its synth crawl. It puts atmosphere first, and Iri’s voice feels more like an instrument than something focusing on…which isn’t the case with her own “Watashi.” Produced by Kenmochi Hidefumi (best known for being the central producer of Suiyoubi No Campanella), it is a shifty number that highlights Iri’s voice in both singing and rapping mode. If that sounds similar to Suiyoubi No Campanella, there are some connecting strings, but whereas Kom_I is unpredictable and raw, Iri is far more polished as a singer, not to mention boasting a huskier voice. Listen below.

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Fantasy Land: Anemone

Producer Ninomiya Tasuki and artist Yikii work — based on available online data — over a far distance. The former is in Niigata Prefecture, while the latter is in China (and putting out pretty incredible stuff on her own, too). The two have come together to form Anemone, a “fairytale like music group” creating synth pop. Based on the songs posted thus far, Anemone feels like it can be slotted in the same general space as Metoronori and even Fuji Chao, artists creating their own pop world and letting lyrics drip out in all their messy glory. “Tablet” (above) is the most direct, at least for me, partially due to it being in English but mostly for a specificity the other songs hide (it feels like dreamy escape, until Yikii mentions “30 tablets” and it starts getting a bit darker). Whether she’s delivering the Lord’s Prayer over skittery electronics on “Requiem” or gliding alongside sparse piano notes on “Yumeutsutsu,” the pair work wonderfully together to create a fantasy with shadowy edges.

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Kawaii Round-Up: Yuigot, Capchii, Miss Carat And Snail’s House

On the one hand, boiling “kawaii” down to one specific sub-style of music is not easy to do. On the other hand, there definitely is a wave of artists embracing cute and fluffy sounds, both in Japan and abroad. With the former, a lot of kawaii-approrpiate numbers have come out recently, so here’s a quick round-up:

— Via Maltine Records, Chiba producer Yuigot shared a new album of hyper-bright electronic tunes titled Magic Magic Magic EP. Yuigot splits the collection in half, with the twinkling chimes dominating the title track and “Crazy Sprinkle Friends,” which features an appearance from YUC’e (whose “Future Candy” is one of the biggest songs around in terms of defining what “kawaii” — or “kawaii bass” to be specific — is all about. Yet Yuigot also gets into some mad-cap sampling on the other half of the EP, stringing together cartoon sound effect and hip-hop samples to create dizzying little numbers that aren’t pure sugar. Get it here.

— From producer Capchii comes something a little harder-edged, but still mostly shiny. “Sparkle!!” matches synth chips up with bass freakouts, a common approach in this sub-realm, but one that the artist handles well. Especially for over five minutes. Listen below.

— We don’t write too much about idol music around these parts anymore for a plethora of reasons…still making peace with no more Especia, probably…yet here we are, turning to Sapporro trio Miss Carat who deliver us a throwback of sorts. That’s because they’ve gotten Yunomi to handle production, recalling the idol boom days when fledgling outfits routinely called up more underground trackmakers as a way to stand out (and save on the budget). Or, you know, it recalls BPM15Q, which Yunomi also worked with. Listen below.

— Last, the biggest producer of the bunch Snail’s House released his new EP Pixel Galaxy. It is brief, three songs total, but shows off his chiptune tendencies. Get it here.

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New mus.hiba Featuring Zo3: “Ginkgo”

One of the key components of producer mus.hiba’s music these last few years have been digital voices, created using a freeware version of signing-synthesizer program Vocaloid called UTAU that generated the vocals on many of his tracks. Yet for his new song “Ginkgo,” he’s decided to bring a dash of real humanity to his slowly unfolding beat, posting the demo and asking for vocal contributions. The first shared contribution comes from Bay Area artist Zo3, who meshes up with the beat to inject some longing into it. As a result, it is one of the sturdiest numbers mus.hiba has put out, and reveals a potential new layer to his sound, one where guests such as Zo3 provide a solidity the digi-warble of Sekka Yufu can’t. Which is to say, this is the most outright pop thing he’s done, way different than the darkness of White Girl but intriguing in its own lane. Listen above.

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New Dubb Parade: Hidden Files

No better way to get the start of a new week going than with a new collection of skittery electronic numbers courtesy of Dubb Parade. This one, to some degree, feels a little more loose, potentially unfinished (or, at least, sitting around for a while), given the basic naming approach he takes to the five tracks — they are, simply, just a “beat.” Yet it is credit to his approach to footwork that these never feel like they are in need of something else, as the title implies, but stand on their own, via off-kilter synths (“Beat2”) or giddy slice-and-dice vocal samples (“Beat1”). Get it here, or listen below.

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