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Author Archives: Patrick St. Michel

New Nyankobrq: “Märchen”

Producer Nyankobrq has created tracks both hyperactive and a bit slower in pace, but latest creation “Märchen” has it both ways. It’s, for the most part, a pretty laid back, full of cheery synth lines and a skip-worthy beat. Only a few gravity-twisting electronic touches disrupt the sunny day vibes — until Nyankobrq allows a few moments of aggression to filter in, from a brief — but big — bass drop to a few vocal samples that in most other songs would hype the crowd up, but here feel like passing thoughts. Listen above.

Traxman, A Bunch Of Japanese Producers Come Together On Trax Of The Rising Sun – Traxman Vs Japanese Juke

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Prolific Chicago juke producer Traxman was one of the most influential figures in inspiring Japan’s own juke scene, having toured the country early on and appearing on releases by artists such as Paisley Parks. An even larger meeting makes sense then, and Trax Of The Rising Sun – Traxman Vs Japanese Juke delivers. It can be looked at as really two albums, the first half being a dusty, skittery set of new Traxman songs, and the back end being a collection of Japanese producers reworking said songs into new forms, from Foodman’s airy take on “Trax Got Bangz” to Boogie Mann’s lithe interpretation of “Blowin In Tha Wind.” Get it here, or listen below.

Stitched Together: Paffgen’s “Channel View”

Tokyo artist Paffgen’s “Channel View” — tipped off to us by our friends at Lights & Music — is a 17-minute journey made up of a wide array of original sounds and samples, taken from the likes of The Weeknd and Neon Indian and, uhhh, Diddy Kong Racing. It features something that could be considered tropical — artist Pun Pun Circle adds marimba to it — but which is a bit more off-kilter than anything you’d want to hear playing by the beach. Yet that is where “Channel View” shines, frequently mutating to the point of feeling like mini-songs sewn together and pulling off the pretty impressive feat of being compelling for its entire play time. Listen above.

Akio (Sugar’s Campaign) Teams Up With Bo En For Bokura No Irotoridori

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London-based electronic artist bo en is no stranger to working with Japanese artists. On previous releases, he’s teamed up with Avec Avec and mus.hiba, while he’s produced numbers for J-Pop acts such as Yun*Chi. Now he’s teamed up with Akio, the primary vocalist in Sugar’s Campaign, for a short but extremely cheery set of pop. bo en pulls from a wide variety of inspirations for this Technicolor set, opening with an a capella intro before bursting to life on “Itadakimasu” with big drum hits, horns and what sounds like dogs barking off in the background. Akio bounces through it like this cartoon backdrop is just a part of his daily life. What the pair do so well on it and the rest of the album is play around with familiar styles — New Jack Swing and disco being primary ones — but rendering them in such a way to sound completely different. Get it here.

New Tatsuro Yamashita: “Cheer Up! The Summer”

For the purpose of space, I’ll spare you my thousand-upon-thousand word essay about celebrated Japanese artist Tatsuro Yamashita for the moment and just say that few singer / songwriters anywhere are as skilled craftsman like Yamashita, whose legacy still looms large over the Japanese music scene. His best songs revolve around longing and hoping, and his latest single (dude still goin’ strong at 63!) “Cheer Up! The Summer” tightropes between both feelings. Powered by some of the hardest hitting drums backing up one of his songs, “Cheer Up!” mourns the already finished season while already dreaming off of summers to come, Yamashita’s self harmonizing and the shiny melody already drifting off to an imagined tomorrow in the shadow of what just finished. Listen to the short version above.