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Author Archives: Patrick St. Michel

New Stones Taro: “You Are (M)”

Kyoto’s Stones Taro has turned the past into their playground over the last two years. “You Are (M)” moves away from the blunted territory of “lo-fi house” in favor of a jungle number that allows the edges to blur a bit, a seeming nod to the glory days now well gone by (that, presumably, Stones Taro didn’t experience themselves, but is imagining here). Their latest track moves between those wobbly passages — often marked by vocal samples — that feel out of time before dropping hard into stuttering passages where Stones Taro brings the energy up as high as they can. But those moments never last, always interrupted and doomed to be fragments. But it’s fun while it lasts. Listen above.

New DJ Fulltono: Before The Storm EP

DJ Fulltono told me last year in interview that he wants to keep boiling down juke to its most basic elements, and the Before The Storm EP displays this desire for simple but body-moving exercises in percussion. This isn’t the first time Fulltono’s minimalist hunger has come through — the Draping series he’s doing with CRZKNY and Skip Club Orchestra follows a similar pattern — but here the attention is all on his hiccuping tracks. “Apaches” lets a dusty guitar sample spring up early, but the bulk of the song is just skittering beats looped, aligning with the more stripped-down takes on the Chicago-born style. So it goes for the rest of the EP — Fulltono lets other elements sneak in, but always keeps the focus on the beat, showing the subtle mutations in all their stuttering wonder. Get it here, or listen below.

City Daze: Tomisaki’s City 166

At its core, Tomisaki’s City 166 is a great house album, delivering three high-energy tracks full of warm piano lines and vocal samples. It’s a good time, fun release! But the reason to put it under the spotlight a bit more is because of the moments when the songs on City 166 get blurry. See the bell melody that enters into “Shallow Valley” about midway through, adding a light feeling to a number that was otherwise barreling ahead. Or spend some time with release highlight “Tall Circle,” which teeters between pure daze and something more sturdy for its whole run. Get it here, or listen below.

New Snail’s House: Alien Pop II

The danger in nostalgia is getting stuck. It’s easy to ground yourself in the best thing you heard when you were 20 and never budge…or go even further back, a move making everything happening in front of you in the now seem like junk compared to the good old days. But seeing the now…and how the now develops…can be thrilling. Alien Pop II is among Snail’s House best releases to date, marking the next step for a producer who has spent the last two years developing from warm-and-fuzzy beatmaker to one of Japan’s best creators going. Like its predecessor, Alien Pop II serves as an embrace of electro-pop, channeling the bubbling sounds of Yasutaka Nakata at his peak while still finding room for Snail’s House to put their own mark on it. “Cosmo Funk” delivers throbbing synth melodies and interlocking syllable stutters that morph into something approaching proper singing as the number swings forward. After spending 2018 showcasing a more refined side to Snail’s House, this reminds of the pure joy capable in all these electronics coming together (with some subtle piano notes creeping in, too). Better still is “Planet Girl,” opening with a big party-starting digi-drum fill before erupting into a steady bounce and flurry of shiny synthesizer stardust, making the Vocaloid-smeared vocals bouncing alongside it all even stickier. No need to retreat into old Capsule albums and fading memories, because a new generation of artists are really showing a new path forward. Here’s a standout. Get it here, or listen below.

New Wooman: “Sun”

Post-Cuz-Me-Pain band Wooman has a new album out next week, and “Sun” hints that they are just a touch more focused this time around. Early releases from this fuzz-accented project embraced a garage-centered playfulness balanced out by some of the shadowy tension of their younger days, with songs feeling seconds away from zipping into chaos. “Sun,” though, unfolds more deliberately. It starts out jaunty but with some melancholy creeping in, everything slowly picking up in intensity without ever feeling like its heading off track. But it all builds to one big rev up to close out the song, Wooman using more concentration to make everything click together come the end. Listen above.