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New Fu_mou: “Abyssal Drop”

Producer fu_mou’s “Green Night Parade” has become one of the defining Japanese netlabel songs of this decade, a number that has gone on to influence plenty of artists all around the world and one whose sentimentally sweet vibe was ahead of its time, the chirpy vocals and piano a couple years in front of the current “kawaii bass” wave. It took some time to really sink in — look at what some dummies wrote about it at the time of its release — but now feels like an especially important note in the halcyon days of Japanese netlabel culture. Now, like a lot of other former .zip file wonders, fu_mou is releasing his first “proper” album via Tower Records next week. The lead song from it, “Abyssal Drop,” is already out though, and shows that fu_mou can still write a great melody…and wrap it up in a glitchy electro-pop frame. Considering a song like “Green Night Parade” already was leaning pretty close to J-pop in regards to vocals, hearing his singing here isn’t a surprise, and ultimately it matches up well with the music’s bounce…and the way it ruptures at the end. Listen above.

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New Happy Kuru Kuru: “Natsu No Hi No Labyrinth”

The amount of music Yunomi is putting out…whether as Yunomi or alongside a different project, such as idol unit Happy Kuru Kuru…is reaching pretty prolific figures. “Natsu No Hi No Labyrinth” is the latest dash of colorful electro-pop anchored by lithe female vocals, jumping between zippy passages and brief pauses that up the drama significantly. Like most of Yunomi’s work, it all comes back to the hook, here a bit faster than other songs from this year, but every bit as catchy. Listen above.

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New Buddhahouse: Summer Breeze

The sweltering heart of summer has arrived in Japan, unless you live up in Hokkaido, where the temperatures are far more manageable and the next two months probably feel wonderful. Sapporo producer Buddhahouse’s new release via Sabacan Records, Summer Breeze, captures the more relaxed feeling of the season on the northern-most island. The title track features ample space, building up to something a bit more frantic but never feeling too busy, even the familiar samples sounding cooled off (and surrounded by bird sounds…a nice natural touch). Buddhahouse finds a nice groove and builds up on it, but never letting it get too far away from him (though, hey, that final stretch is pretty energetic). Same goes for “Dancing Maker,” which incorporates samples of various computer programs (think I hear AOL Instant Messenger and Windows in here) into a crystalline wash of synthesizer. Get it here, or listen below.

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New Her Ghost Friend: “Matataki”

Now more than ever, the dreamy escapism of J-pop duo Her Ghost Friend sure would come in handy. Three years after their last album, the duo are back with a new album, out tomorrow in Japan. “Matataki” is the first taste of it, and like the pair’s previous efforts, it’s a soft, string-accented pop number finding lead singer Shinobu Ono singing over DJ Obake’s musicbox-ready creation. The drums move at a skittery pace, but never pierce through the soft sounds dominating the music, nor overpower Ono’s voice. Rather, they gently push the song forward, so it never gets to caught up in its own head space. Glad to have them back. Listen above.

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New Owtn.: “China Marble”

As far as genres go, “poemcore” probably has more going for it than “Simpson’s Wave” or whatever YouTube trickery gets written up online, but don’t see any trend pieces being written up about it. Owtn., back after a brief hiatus, makes some of the more absorbing songs in this style — which, as the name hints at, relies on a poetic delivery bordering on the spoken word — and “China Marble” is a good entry point. Over a woozy backdrop, she delivers lines in a near whisper, the music itself fading into a dusty form at times, giving “China Marble” an out-of-time feel. And just as critical as her words and the music is the silence…parts of this are very sparse, and help build up tension. Listen above.

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