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Author Archives: Patrick St. Michel

Atomic Bomb Compilation Vol. 5 Is Here, Featuring CRZKNY, Dubb Parade, Skip Club Orchestra And More

The Atomic Bomb Compilation’s continued relevance isn’t so much the result of coincidences as much as the entire inspiration for this project’s existence taking up more of the frame with every passing year. Vol. 5 arrives in the middle of a summer featuring a news cycle featuring nuclear weapons…and threats for said devices to be used against countries. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 — the event long lurking over this series — has been featured lately not as something to sadly reflect on, but as very active reminder of what could happen again (note: Japan is avoiding joining a treaty banning nuclear weapons). This series, spearheaded by juke producer CRZKNY and several others, has always sounded paranoid, dark and on the edge of chaos. Yet whereas 2016’s edition felt like unease shaped by the past (it even featured a prominent sample of then-President Barack Obama commenting on the Hiroshima bombing), now it sounds extra urgent. The darkness feels a lot closer now.

Of course, that unnerving vibe comes courtesy of talented juke (or otherwise) artists exploring the more shadowy sides of an already skittery style. Organizer CRZKNY gets bass rumbling on the frantic “King,” while Skip Club Orchestra gets frighteningly literal on “D.E.S. (Drop, Explosion, Scorched),” which starts peacefully enough until…well, it all goes to hell and harsh noise in the middle. The songs included on this year’s edition feel darker and more foreboding than usual, with less playful or even reflective numbers, swapped out for tension-filled numbers like Chicago artist bahnhof::zoo’s collaboration with trbl.w//.dr3ams:, the disintegrating juke of “Then & Now,” or Y.a.M.A’s sharp-edged “Atatajima.” The few exceptions — Dubb Parade’s spacious “Tranquil,” TEACHI’s tipsy “Science Of The Peace” — still simply imagine peaceful times, and a sense of everything falling part persists. Though, even that sliver of hope is more than on something like the Twin-Peaks-esque churn of KURAYAMI’s “Implosion Process.” But then again, maybe that’s the most apt of all. Get it here, or listen below.

New Voices: Gaburyu Featuring Eru Amaga: Tokeru

I don’t know what it is about UTAU synthesized vocals themed after weather, but they always make for such a great instrument in electronic music. Snow-themed singer Sekka Yufu has been central to mus.hiba’s creations, and now Yokohama-based producer Gaburyu offers up a strong set of numbers based around the rain-referencing Eru Amaga. TokeruGet it here, or listen below.

New i-fls: No Start Point / Earphone Song

The bedtown sounds of i-fls always sound appropriate for walks…that is, after all, the activity you’re most likely to engage in when living in a suburb and have a lot on your mind. No Start Point / Earphone Song presents a swifter version of the dreamy Garageband symphonies the producer has been making over the last few years. Their albums have featured plenty of speedy cuts, but something about the three songs included here feel quicker, i-fls seeing if the same melancholy powering their more meditative creations can come through in a faster setting. And they do, from the almost-literal “No Start Point” (indeed, the song cold-opens before stopping…and then just revving up again without warning) to the pulsing “Earphone Song,” the releases’s best and sweetest moment. And it even features a softer landing, ending with the more mid-tempo “Stressful.” Get it here, or listen below.

New Picnic Women: The Dance Music Anthem EP

I will not bore you with the details of how I missed last week’s Anthem event at ageHa (but if you must know…not finding buses in time and having my socks ruined by rain). But I did, and it was a personal low point for 2017 (which, all things considered, isn’t too bad). Thankfully, Picnic Women shared a new EP, so I can just loop these two songs and pretend I was right there. The title track darts ahead, featuring helium-inflated vocals that give way to a heavier portion featuring snippets of “I Feel Rave” spliced in. The next song, “Up And Down,” veers closer to what Picnic Women excels at, taking Evelyn Champagne King’s “Love Come Down” and pushing it towards juke (and acid) boundaries. Get it here, or listen below.

Warm Fright: HelloHowLow’s “Menhera Girl (Summer Nightmare Mix)”

Aiming for outright catchiness in the summer is too easy. Sapporo-based electro-pop duo HelloHowLow released a song caled “Menhera Girl” about a year ago, and it’s an upbeat bouncer featuring digitally manipulated vocals, the sort of catchy number that fans of Perfume probably can get into easily. Yet it’s also a little too breezy, save for a late-song spoken word segment which adds some welcome goosepimples. For summer 2017, though, they’ve gone and made a “summer nightmare mix,” and this decision improves on the song immensely. The brightly illuminated singing of the original turns into something splitting at the seams — think The Knife — while the spoken word parts now pop up throughout, seemingly at random, making the uneasiness ever-present rather than confined to one stretch. Given the theme central to the song — facing down mental health issues — this “nightmare” mix makes everything feel far more urgent. Maybe not a summer jam, but something more interesting. Listen above.