New Toyu: Get Together EP

Nagano producer Toyu isn’t afraid to get wonky. The youngster’s latest two-song offering, the Get Together EP, opens with a track off in its own weird, wonderful universe, featuring creaky singing buried under layers of electronics and a digi-carnival fizz. This might be what Sekai No Owari sounds like in the Twilight Zone. Yet the lack of polish makes for a charming track, but also a wobbly affair that, by the time the vocals switch from helium bark to computer sing-song, always has you on edge. And somehow, it all peaks with a surprisingly sweet hook. “Lose Sight Of Yourself,” the other song here, is a bit more straightforward (at least compared with what came before), but still presents an eccentric vision of what Japanese electronic pop could be. Get it here, or listen below.

New Mitsume: “Memai”

New Mitsume: “Memai”

After deconstructing themselves thoroughly on last year’s wonderful Sasayaki, Tokyo’s Mitsume are back with a new EP this May, and they’ve shared the title track to it. “Memai” isn’t quite as stripped down as some of the highlights from 2014, yet it does nail the repetition they do so well, sprinkled with dizzying electronic details. The real highlight, though, is lead singer Moto Kawabe’s voice, making “Memai” sound very sweet. Listen above.

Drowned In Sound: BlackGlassG’s With U/Take Time

An issue that still leaves a bad feeling in many people is when an electronic music producer — often referred to dismissively as “SoundCloud producers” because absolutely zero famous people use SoundCloud, no sir — samples or reworks an R&B song into a fidgety electro number (criticism includes a use of R&B vocals as ironic or leading to the erasure of black female vocalists). Both sides have pros and cons, as they always do, but Kobe’s BlackGlassG finds a clever way to move around that debate — if the sample at the heart of new song “With U” hails from R&B, he has rendered it into something from another dimension by absolutely layering it over with hazy electronics and chunky metallic sounds. Suddenly, the vocal isn’t the focal point, but a disorienting touch on a song where a bunch of them come together to form a good track. Listen to it, and “Take Time,” above.

Twisted Dreams: Gurun Gurun’s Atarashii Hi EP

Dreamy singer-songwriter Cuushe has kept busy in recent months, preparing her new EP and slowly sharing songs from it. Yet she also found time to record vocasl with woozy outfit Gurun Gurun, a project on Tokyo’s Home Normal label, for the title track of their latest EP. What’s most interesting about this, though, is how different Cuushe sounds on “Atarashii Hi.” She’s mostly been heard on her own hazy pop, or as the vocalist for Neon Cloud which…is similarly dreamy, just a bit darker and more unsettling. Gurun Gurun’s music, though, is twisty and disconnected, random string pulls and electronic sounds popping up around Cuushe’s voice, which comes across clearly in this scatterbrained song. It is experimental art pop, made memorable thanks to Cuushe’s contributions, wrangling a mess of sounds into something resembling a song.

The rest of the EP mostly finds artists remixing said track, whether it be into an intense lumberer of a track (Nanonum’s take) or a more electronic warp (Hideki Umezawa’s rework). Also present is a song that might actually be more up Cuushe’s default setting, but sung by the singer Miko. Get it here, or listen below.

Voice Return: Tenkiame’s So Sad About Us

Azusa Suga has been a busy bee over the last few years. Besides running netlabel Canata Records, he’s been involved in a bunch of musical projects, including our favorite vaporwave-leaning time machine Shortcake Collage Tape. He was also, at one point, the lead singer of For Tracy Hyde, a rock outfit with an indie-pop bend releasing music through Canata. They got more attention, though, and eventually added Lovely Summer Chan as a vocalist — a shrewd move in terms of trying to jump up to the next level.

Suga is still with For Tracy Hyde — and that band is still going, just in a quiet stretch at the moment it appears — but he’s also started a new band called Tenkiame, one where he returns to the role of singer in all his unchained glory. It’s a little bit of a “Classic Coke” deal with For Tracy Hyde, albeit one where Suga and company have edged away from twee trappings in favor of shoegaze (how he has described the band) along with a style of rock favored by bands such as Japan’s Art-School (a group For Tracy Hyde has at times sounded like, though made a bit more clear here). So Sad About Us, fittingly, turns the feedback up a bit, although on songs such as opener “Splash!” Suga’s impassioned singing is coming through clearly, never being submerged by the noise. Things get sludgier in a Dinosaur Jr. way on “Candy,” but Suga ultimately embraces a pop approach to rock where the songs here are always aiming at catchiness, regardless of how distorted they get. Get it here, or listen below.