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Category Archives: Music

New Hakushi Hasegawa: iPhone Six Plus

Hakushi Hasegawa can sometimes sound a little too structured for my ears. At his best, he constructs zippy numbers exuding charm without going full frantic like so many other modern Japanese electronic artists. Other times, his work can come off as a little too music class, more interested in showing off dexterity than delivering something resonant. That is not a problem on iPhone Six Plus, a new album put out via Maltine Records. This is the best distillation of what Hasegawa does yet, tied to a theme revolving around the titular smartphone. Similar to the supermarket dance of Boogie Idol and Pasocom Music Club, the songs here have a digital stiffness to them, but through which Hasegawa finds beauty. Unlike the aforementioned, tracks such as “Sabaku De” and “Yokogao S” zoom forward backed by hints of jazz and classical music composition, but Hasegawa keeps them loose enough to never feel like homework. His voice helps a lot here, adding emotion to these intricate tracks. And sequencing shines too, the album ending with a sweet and spacious comedown of a number. Get it here.

New Young Juvenile Youth: “Slapback”

Young Juvenile Youth have had a series of starts and stops to their career thus far. They gained momentum…and then kind of dropped off the grid for a second. They play a Hello-Kitty-themed park in Tokyo at a big Halloween show…and then are quiet. Well now the duo’s debut album, Mirror, arrives next month, and “Slapback” offers a first glance at what they are up to. In many ways, Young Juvenile Youth’s visuals have always gotten more priority than their music — they got robust coverage and fan attention for a video, not a song — and this one features a pretty flashy (and disorienting) clip to go with it. But there music often does warrant just as much attention, and “Slapback’s” vocal-sample raindrops and off-kilter electronics lend the song a wonderfully unsteady feeling, giving it the feeling of always being unpredictable. Yet grounding it, as has always been the case, are the vocals, which give it a human feel thanks to the dilemma at their center. Watch above.

New Pavilion Xool: Stick Around

Plenty of producers make some slight changes to familiar songs, failing to offer new perspective on the number. Pavilion Xool offers the opposite on Stick Around. Take “Glass Streeeeet,” which builds around a sample of Mint Condition’s “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes).” It isn’t straightforward, but rather the Tokyo producer plays around with the timing of the song (sax to the front!) while also giving it a bit more energy. The eight-song album shines when it does this, from the out-of-time hop of opener “80 Teex” to the sweltering tropical bounce of “At 2pm.” It can get a little too lazy at times — if it starts feeling apt for a YouTube channel called “beats for homework,” you have gotten too relaxed — but at its best Pavilion Xool does a good job blurring time up. Get it here, or listen below.

New CRZKNY: Coke, Shitlife…

Hiroshima’s CRZKNY comes up often around here, but mostly for his political, unfortunately relevant work with the Atomic Bomb Compilation series. He’s great in this mode, but dude can also just get down and filthy when he needs to. Every radical needs to let off steam, and Coke, Shitlife… is the juke producer cutting loose. The mood can still get pretty dark — see the laser-light speed of “Young Hamster Strikes Back” or the burbling “Ableton Killed The Pop Star” — but rather than imagining the apocalypse, CRZKNY is just kinda flexing with these swift tunes. Just check the looped snarl of “fuck off” on “I Say Fuckoff You Say Goodbye!” CRZKNY is as hard-hitting as ever, but he’s got a grin here. Get it here, or listen below.

New Mariana In Our Heads: “September”

Indie-pop outfit Mariana In Our Heads have a new album out this December, and the first track from it leaves us with something already wistful. “September” unfolds at a pleasant rate, guided on by washes of synthesizer, some guitar and pleasant bongo touches, but this backdrop only makes the melancholy at the heart of the song feel all the more palpable. The lyrics long for something that sounds already gone, but they persist, even if it’s just to keep that memory flickering for just a little longer. Listen above.