Make Believe Melodies Logo

Category Archives: Music

New Boys Age: New World Pregnancy

The vision surrounding a Boys Age album tends to be more unexpected than the music itself. New World Pregnancy, a long gestating full length, comes billed as “an imagined soundtrack” to a story one half of the Saitama rock duo wrote. It gets pretty detailed…a machine goes sentient…and stands as the most ambitious bit of storytelling the pair have indulge in yet.

The music, though, finds them in their comfort zone. New World Pregnancy is the eyelid-sagging rock Boys Age have been doing extremely well for a few years now, highlighted by Muppet-esque singing that adds a charm The lyrics are definitely in narrative form, but this group has always been about vibe, creating an atmosphere that in any other country would be tagged as “stoned” but in Japan might just be a result of living in Saitama. Songs are never in a rush — opener “Mother’s Lullaby” is a woozy synth drifter, while highlights such as “Binary Field” and “Cobblestone” are mid-temp meditations that let the singing add all the tension. They do slip in some weirder moments, such as the sampled announcements bookending the (surprisingly rubbery funk!) of “Maetel.” Yet New World Pregnancy is ultimately a reminder of what makes them some of the finer oddballs in Japan. Get it here, or listen below.

New Nemui PJ: Pumpkin EP

Nemui PJ, the collaborative project between Noah and Kidkanevil, released their first EP at the start of the week, which further highlights the duo’s bleary-eyed sound. A pairing of two artists with established styles either needs to move in an entirely new direction, or reveal new layers to what each participant has been doing. Pumpkin achieves the latter, showing how effective Noah’s singing can be when nudged closer to the spotlight (key word “closer” — see the title tracks down-the-hall echos) and how Kidkanevil’s music can underline a great vocalist. And rounding it out, solid remixes from Submerse and Lullatone (!), artists who get their own spin on the song while still capturing the dozing-off feel of the originals. Get it here, or listen below.

Dramatic Noise: Yasuhito Fujinami’s “Dream Ritual”

Going into “Dream Ritual,” by noise artist Yasuhito Fujinami, I expected something harsh. I mean, that’s what he’s known for, with songs inspired heavily by the cacophony of Merzbow. Yet “Dream Ritual” avoids pure chaos in favor of slow-building drama, using its near-eight-minute playtime to develop tension rather than pummel the listener over the head. Opening with samples of dialog…leading to a woman crying…”Dream Ritual” than transitions into a synth-driven slow burn, letting the sound of breaking glass and other extreme noises come in and out. It’s abrasive, but always offers some breathing room…which in turn just allows the next wave to hit even more effectively. Listen above.

New In The Blue Shirt: “Stevenson Screen”

Bonus songs tacked on to a special edition CD or vinyl issue of an existing album might not normally grab our attention, but when it comes to In The Blue Shirt, we are eager to listen to what micro-level dance tinkering dude gets up to at any time. “Stevenson Screen” comes from the record version of last year’s breakthrough Sensation Of Blueness, and appropriately sounds welcome on the full-length. In The Blue Shirt can certainly rev his sound up when needed, but his strongest ability is bringing a sense of warmth to cut-up dance-pop, using snatches of acoustic guitar and keyboard to create an autumn sweater of a track. As is the case with a lot of his best songs, “Stevenson Screen” shines the most come those syllables, which sound aching rather than frantic. And this was an extra! Listen above.

Soft Escape: Haruno’s Flowers Laugh

Tokyo-based artist Haruno’s Flowers Laugh offers up a brief but comforting set of synth-pop, the sort of fragile music designed to slip into for a bit. The best moments come on the front end, on the two songs featuring guest vocals courtesy of Amegorou, who brings a soft but affecting touch to Haruno’s keyboard-guided melodies (especially on the bouncier “Can Not Be Waiting Anymore?”). The rest of Flowers Laugh is more a display of Haruno’s mattress-like approach to electronic-pop, highlighted by the daydream take on Jersey Club on “Our Mugs.” Either side, though, offers a nice bit of shelter, even if it lasts just under 15 minutes. Get it here, or listen below.