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Kyoto Rising: Quantizer Sampler 2

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TOYOMU got all the attention for his imagined take on Kanye, but the young producer also co-runs a party / label out of his hometown of Kyoto called Qauntizer Kyoto, giving space for similarly cosmic-tripping producers in the Kansai region. Quantizer Sampler 2 is, fittingly, a great gateway to a collective taking the Brainfeeder-inspired deep-space beats that used to be an Osaka staple and running with it, the best cuts here being wonky affair taking cues from hip-hop but being unafraid to throw in messy synthesizer (“Leap Of Faith” by Dyelo Think and “Iiechid” by Ally Mobbs being sterling examples). It avoids the trappings of your usual beat collection by being engaging enough without an MC over top, though a few contributions (looking at you, Yotaro) could use it. And, if you need a hook, TOYOMU contributes two twisty numbers here, highlighted by the neon-tinted snaking of “Modern.” Get it here, or listen below.

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New I-fls: Nightmare Is Not Decade

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Memories on memories, really: bedroom producer / suburban nostalgia dealer i-fls’ latest release takes songs from two 2013 releases (Wished Nightmare and Decade In A Day, both now deleted) and finds the reclusive producer reworking them and adding a few new elements into them. ” I had distrust to degree of perfection for this two works,” i-fls writes, and it could be risky to revisit these in 2016 — one of the charms of those releases is the grainy quality, raw and letting the melodies really shine through. But Nightmare Is Not Decade isn’t an HD rendering, just a cleaned up affair that feels less like a compilation and more like an entirely new set, i-fls’ new wrinkles to familiar songs giving a new perspective on familiar melodies. Get it here, or listen below.

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New PellyColo: Cover Man

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Remember when the “city pop revival” was the premier wave of nostalgia running through Japanese music? For those who are a little exhausted by what came next — an intense rash of “oh man, the ’90s!” speared by SMAP, Hikaru Utada and the crushing march of time — we have a new three-song set from PellyColo, an artist who has long nailed the ’80s synth-pop vibe in a way that never feels cynical…but rather just like solid pop songwriting with a retro tinge. From the title track, the trio of songs load up on sharp bass slaps, synth splashes and PellyColo’s singing, here relatively untouched and gliding along nicely with the instruments. He’s at his best when letting the songs really get their shimmer on — the rippling electronics of “Lupin” and pretty much all of “Broken Paradise” being the highlights (the latter’s earnestness being key). Get it here, or listen below.

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New Yoshino Yoshikawa: “Opt-Out”

The march towards Yoshino Yoshikawa’s new album continues with the second single from Event Horizon “Opt-Out.” It highlights some of the themes running throughout the album, primarily one of trepidation about sweeping technological changes (“I don’t want to be part of the big data” being a highlight). As much as the words wrestle with one another, the music itself is a chipper collection of synthesizer and bell twinkles. Listen above.

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Prayer Answered: Kamisama Club’s “Onegai Temple”

Always open to more squiggly electro-pop units entering the Japanese indie music fray, and thankfully the Tokyo duo Kamisama Club bring their best with the bouncy “Onegai Temple.” The pair craft a fidgety backdrop — one that opens quite serenely, with chimes and a few electronic warbles, but soon bursts into a synth-charged skip featuring a few samples of kids cheering and vocal raspberries — that is just right for their style of singing, somewhere between celebratory and optimistic. Great example of indie-level electro-pop from a group to keep an eye on. Listen above.

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