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Author Archives: Patrick St. Michel

Disjointed Pops: Mondo Algorithm’s Migration

Nothing on Migration clicks completely, but everything clicks just right. The duo of Mondo Algorithm dabble in a kind of music where the distance between every element is clear, but it snaps together all the same. See “Dive,” a woozy number moving at half speed that features locked-in bass, synth washes and out-of-time vocals. Yet it all works together to create an intriguing song. This is the common thread connecting Mondo Algorithm’s music on the album, from instrumental creepers such as the title track, to the relaxed skip of “Capricious,” featuring vocals that trail behind the chill music. Get it here, or listen below.

Big Feels: Braven Featuring Yami “Contact”

Plenty of electronic tracks sound big, but few sound as big as Braven’s “Contact.” The young Osaka producer — 17 going by the SoundCloud bio, alongside the description of “I make music that lets your penius erect” — teams up with Yami (who, based off the Vocaloid-lite vocal style, might be the UTAU Yami Ryone) for a really cinematic number. That’s all thanks to the drums — Braven is on some sort of Viking march vibe with this percussion, big hearty hits that up the drama of this song substantially. It turns the vocal hook from digi-wobble to (gulp) epic, and it’s all augmented by these rough-and-tough electro portions bringing to mind 80Kidz. Listen above.

New Carpainter: Returning

There’s something thrilling about an artist just being entranced by specific sounds, and then seeing what they construct with them. For the past three-so years, I’ve mostly been drawn to the experimental side of this fancy — Foodman, Wasabi Tapes, Taquwami, etc. Yet this feeling manifests itself frequently in the more traditional dance community too, though maybe not always quite as joyfully as on Carpainter’s Returning. The electronic artist has long offered up sleeker garage and 2-step on Trekkie Trax, a netlabel dabbling in all sorts of styles. Individual sounds have always stuck out on his albums and loosies, but everything about Returning feels like a step up. It’s an album that washes over you, but also gets you moving around (at least in a desk chair).

There’s no major shifts in sound for Carpainter here, just refinement of what he’s been doing. Everything just flows so well together — tracks don’t quite bleed into one another, but the transition between each one feels natural. And then there is everything happening within them. See the robotic voices on the start-stop affair of “Airwave” or the crystal wooze of the spring “Sprocket Gear.” “Changeling Life” summons up spirits of old rave music to get the energy pumping, while late cut “Silver Grass” shimmers, keeping an energetic pace but feeling like a welcome comedown. Which is ideal as it leads to the title track, the peak of the whole album. Get it here, or listen below.

New UKO: “Spur”

The renewed interest — both domestically and internationally — in city pop has caused a lot of ripples across many genres of music, but it’s also at times distracted from artists whose music sounds good with or without Bubble-era ties. Singer/songwriter UKO definitely takes cues from the aforementioned style — just listen to those horn blurts — but newest song “Spur” stands out all on its own, removed from trends. It’s a gliding number, featuring splashes of guitar and a persistent beat surrounded by woozy electronics. From this fog machine mix comes a great hook, elastic and joyful. Listen above.

New Izumi Makura: “Eien No Shojo”

Izumi Makura has had a pretty quick rise up in 2017. Sure, the whisper-rapper from Fukuoka isn’t pulling any Daoko-level ascension, but she’s gone from a pretty secretive artist to one with music gracing fashion shows and commercials. Now, she’s providing theme songs to movies. This is a nice update on her status, but “Eien No Shojo” would just be a bit of reporting it also wasn’t a solid number highlighting her style. The main draw, as ever, is her voice —- she delivers words in a quiet style that often teeters on sounding defeated, but with moments of optimism breaking through (when she shoots for a higher register). She sounds best over relatively sparse music, and “Eien’s” simple piano melodies and beat push the focus entirely on her. Listen above.