After a stretch where Nagoya’s House Of Tapes explored the more melodic side of his sound, here comes “Melodia,” a deep-space nebula of a song spouting all over the place. Neither constricting like earlier House Of Tapes’ songs nor peacefully ambient, “Melodia” twinkles and stumbles about, rarely staying in place long enough for one consistent idea to materialize, but rather zooming off in every direction possible. It’s a lot for just under three minutes, but absorbing in its chaos. Listen above.
Suiyoubi No Campanella’s ascent in 2016 shows no signs of slowing down, an outfit once hovering around the Shinjuku Loft scene now popping up on SMAP X SMAP (uhh, R.I.P?) and scoring tie-up campaigns with Toyota. The latter — repping for the Prius — has generated her latest song, “Matsuo Basho,” and like many acts before them, Suiyoubi uses the spotlight to shine rather than shrink. By now, Suiyoubi has a sound, albeit one built around being prone for swerves — it was all over this summer’s UMA, an album I’d like to write about some time, but I don’t know when! — and “Matsuo Basho” follows that format, the producers crafting a shifty backdrop (Warped vocals! Piano lines! Snippets of surging bass!) over which Komuai darts all over. It isn’t particularly smooth in how it deals with the necessary (for, ya know, ambitious J-pop) advertising tie-up, as there seems to be a passage in the song detailing the features of a new Toyota Prius (airbags, suspension, etc) and the general idea behind it seems to be inspired by a test drive in said automobile. Though, funny enough, said tie up does allow for a glimpse of the producer who never shows his face. This, then, isn’t going to change the minds of anyone already down (or never on board with) the trio, but people already fine with this (or who don’t have any qualms about cross-over-ready acts chasing that ambition) get a solid Suiyoubi No Campanella song. I’m in the latter camp and, even if hearing a line about reclining chairs makes me side eye a bit, the overall quality still pushes it up for me — besides, this is one of my favorite Perfume songs, and it is an outright ad for clothes. And I mean…not like the U.S. or England is much better with this. If you are going to shill, at least make the music sound good. Listen above.
Watching Snail’s House (aka Ujico) develop in the past year — from middle-of-the-road “kawaii bass” producer to an artist showing off a lot of stylistic depth, both electronically and with more classical piano compositions — has been exciting, and the young trackmaker has a new EP out further highlighting his ever improving style. Love Story mixes up the two areas where Snail’s House excels, with a track like “Bitter Sweet” being an overload of bright synths…but being guided by a lovely piano line, which ultimately serves as the song’s sweet spot (call it the “Baby Cruising Love” gene). The music has just become more refined over time — although Love Story can be busy, no element ever seems out of place, everything working together (and, on a laid back number such as “‘I Secretly Love U,'” Snail’s House shows he can do breezy just as good as crowded). Yet the most intriguing development comes via the use of vocals, on “Bitter Sweet” but in particularly on EP highlight “Koisuru Spacegirl,” where the electrified singing adds an emotionally gushy layer to an already sweet song. Get it here, or listen below.
The Sub Account are one of those outfits that seem so prolific that writing about everything they do seems silly. I joke about how much Yunomi has done in 2016, but this duo have probably been busy three times over, with remixes of songs (mainly numbers from anime) and no shortage of live shows (also, at anime-centric events…I saw them once drop the My Melody theme at one such gathering, and it was bonkers). Thank goodness for collections like The Sub Account EP Annex Vol. 1, a gathering of lossie reworks via the pair. It leans heavy on the breakcore-style remixes of cartoon songs and J-pop that long-time Maltine listeners know well, and they’ve selected some high-quality numbers to add extra energy too. Perfume’s “Computer City” gets turned into a late-night burner, the titular phase sliced and diced and transformed into a workout that still carries traces of the original cut’s technologic melancholy. That one is a good representation of what The Sub Account do so well…all of the songs here get modded for the dance floor, but the source material itself is strong on its own, and the duo know it. Anime idol outfit Walküre released one of 2016’s stealthiest J-pop jams, and The Sub Account’s edit simply plays up the drama and makes it all a bit faster. They turn another idol number, “Calling Calling,” into a Pa’s-Lam-referencing club cut, and closes out this EP with two delirious takes on numbers from the idol video game Aikatsu! Listen below, or get it here.
The Tsutaya chain of CD rental shops…yes, this concept exists in Japan, and yes, people still wonder why CD sales are down when you can rent five for a 1/3rd the price of one…puts out special albums every once in a while, and the just-out Cocolo Color Comp finds a handful of colorful artists…from electro-pop artist SAWA to Brinq, an artist I should write about sometime…providing songs for a pretty upbeat set. Electronic producer Yunomi and Nicamoq appear too, giving us yet another chance to gush about their twinkling club fare. “Cocolo Float” isn’t quite as explosive as previous Yunomi cuts, opting for a groove featuring the sound of what seems like Mario jumping on Koopa shells rather than any huge moments of release. Well, in comparison — this one still opens up at points, and is every bit floor ready, but just a bit sweeter. Listen above.