Twisted Dreams: Gurun Gurun’s Atarashii Hi EP

Dreamy singer-songwriter Cuushe has kept busy in recent months, preparing her new EP and slowly sharing songs from it. Yet she also found time to record vocasl with woozy outfit Gurun Gurun, a project on Tokyo’s Home Normal label, for the title track of their latest EP. What’s most interesting about this, though, is how different Cuushe sounds on “Atarashii Hi.” She’s mostly been heard on her own hazy pop, or as the vocalist for Neon Cloud which…is similarly dreamy, just a bit darker and more unsettling. Gurun Gurun’s music, though, is twisty and disconnected, random string pulls and electronic sounds popping up around Cuushe’s voice, which comes across clearly in this scatterbrained song. It is experimental art pop, made memorable thanks to Cuushe’s contributions, wrangling a mess of sounds into something resembling a song.

The rest of the EP mostly finds artists remixing said track, whether it be into an intense lumberer of a track (Nanonum’s take) or a more electronic warp (Hideki Umezawa’s rework). Also present is a song that might actually be more up Cuushe’s default setting, but sung by the singer Miko. Get it here, or listen below.

Voice Return: Tenkiame’s So Sad About Us

Azusa Suga has been a busy bee over the last few years. Besides running netlabel Canata Records, he’s been involved in a bunch of musical projects, including our favorite vaporwave-leaning time machine Shortcake Collage Tape. He was also, at one point, the lead singer of For Tracy Hyde, a rock outfit with an indie-pop bend releasing music through Canata. They got more attention, though, and eventually added Lovely Summer Chan as a vocalist — a shrewd move in terms of trying to jump up to the next level.

Suga is still with For Tracy Hyde — and that band is still going, just in a quiet stretch at the moment it appears — but he’s also started a new band called Tenkiame, one where he returns to the role of singer in all his unchained glory. It’s a little bit of a “Classic Coke” deal with For Tracy Hyde, albeit one where Suga and company have edged away from twee trappings in favor of shoegaze (how he has described the band) along with a style of rock favored by bands such as Japan’s Art-School (a group For Tracy Hyde has at times sounded like, though made a bit more clear here). So Sad About Us, fittingly, turns the feedback up a bit, although on songs such as opener “Splash!” Suga’s impassioned singing is coming through clearly, never being submerged by the noise. Things get sludgier in a Dinosaur Jr. way on “Candy,” but Suga ultimately embraces a pop approach to rock where the songs here are always aiming at catchiness, regardless of how distorted they get. Get it here, or listen below.

New Metome: “Sweeter Than Sweet”

Osaka’s Metome has always been good at making space work for him – as tightly controlled as his songs have been, they’ve always relied on timing to make them snap even harder, and sometimes a second long pause was all that was needed to make a sudden rush of electronics all the more powerful. “Sweeter Than Sweet” really makes the most of space…it uses lots of break to make the fluttery synths and hard bopping drums (plus gun-cocking sounds) smack all the harder. Metome has always been willing to stretch himself, but here’s an interesting new direction for him. Listen above.

Hazy Shores: Half Mile Beach Group’s “Yankee”

Hazy Shores: Half Mile Beach Group’s “Yankee”

The Straight-Ahead Take: With a name like Half Mile Beach Group and hailing from Zushi, a certain tropical flair is expected from this outfit. It is a bit of a special project — Half Mile Beach Group reps for Half Mile Beach Club, a party held in Zushi every once in awhile, which has hosted acts such as Slow Beach in the past. Whatever the background, “Yankee” delivers the island vibes, with a shuffling beat and sweetly sung words…that turn unintelligible and practically drip down the song, giving it a slightly unnerving edge. Every paradise has something sneaky lurking within. Listen above.

The Slightly Personal Take: “So what music do you like?” This question comes up a lot when I meet new people, and it is always annoying because the general answer is way too general (“well, all types of music!”), while getting more specific runs the chance of making me look like an asshole/leaving to something awkward. In all honesty, one list of “music I like” is a collection of what interests me now, an ever-changing mental notepad of songs making up the now. But hidden deeper lies a list of music that survived the transient nature of that first tier and manages to deliver the same emotional punch whenever I turn it on. That’s probably the list I should share with people.

One reason I like “Yankee” by Half Mile Beach Group is because it reminds me a bit of one of the artists on that latter list, Air France. This isn’t the space to gush about that long-disbanded unit…though simply by opening that YouTube video, I’m flush with feelings…but in “Yankee” I hear many similar qualities, if not quite as gorgeous. The sea-side vibe, sure, but also the unease hidden within — Half Mile Beach Group’s vocals are near impossible to understand at first, and they only melt further as the song goes further. It’s a great mix, and “Yankee” is an absolute charmer.

Very Flau Wednesday: New Cuushe And New M/D/G

We are officially back from SXSW and, more or less, recovered from the experience. Coupled with other ~big changes~, let’s try to get back on track.

Lots of new stuff incoming from Flau in the last week. Today, one of their finest artists, the dream-pop-leaning Cuushe, shared another track from her forthcoming Night Lines EP, this one titled “Daze.” Listen to it above.

A little earlier, M/D/G (Kyoto producer Madegg and his latest name), released a self-titled collection. It features some thumping, at times disorienting, cuts, a few of which we’ve written up before, but are now gathered together in one place. You can buy it here, or listen below.