Along with his tofubeats projects*, Yusuke Kawai worked as djnewtown. Under this moniker, he created breakcore loaded up with anime samples sliced up neatly and rearranged into jittery numbers full of life, while also offering flashes of his future work. If you went ahead and wrote the history of Japanese netlabels in the 21st century, djnewtown would be one of the most important names in the conversation even if Kawai never went on to become a crossover artist, as the project was one of the earliest on Maltine Records and helped get that digi-imprint attention (anecdotally, I feel a fair share of people I’ve met who have known Maltine for a long period of time got into it because of djnewtown).
And now, djnewtown is back with four new songs uploaded to SoundCloud, which all take the scalpel to existing tofubeats’ songs (“Positive,” “Shopping Mall,” and “Yuuki,” though I admit I can’t quite place what “SOW” is built from, get at me with what I’m missing). So why now? I can only speculate, but one possibility is sorta obvious — it’s the ten year anniversary of his first Maltine release, which is a nice round number for looking back and re-exploring ideas. Yet listening to the quartet of new songs, I also think about last year’s Fantasy Club (and not just because, uhhhh, he’s sampling himself). That tofubeats’ full length was shaped by exhaustion and unease, and while the back half found some salvation, the bulk of it bristled with confusion and a world weariness. So…why wouldn’t tofubeats want to return to the simple joy of syllables bouncing off one another, built from recent creations? Why not wade back into a time when the internet was a thrilling other world and not, well, the world proper? Just check the ping-pong of “POS” above, or the elastic hiccuping of “SOW” below. There’s no doubt here — these, to me, sound like someone having a blast. Listen to all the new songs below.
*CORRECTION: The initial version of this post said that the djnewtown project came before the tofubeats one. This isn’t true, as tofubeats had started work back in 2006. Make Believe Melodies regrets the error