New House Of Tapes: Hidden Memory

What, exactly, is the end game for an indie producer? Looking at the landscape in Japan in 2014, the answer would be “get the chance to produce for someone else, maybe on a bigger label,” with the ultimate prize being the chance to be turned into a project worth pushing all your own. Nagoya’s House Of Tapes has, for the last few years, been one of the few track makers out there whose music doesn’t seem possible to be mapped on to anyone else – dude made pounding, aggressive dance music aimed at filling every available space on the track with pistoning noise. It did not seem like something anyone could sing over without coming out the other end like grinded-up meat.

Naturally, House Of Tapes’ biggest sonic departure to date somehow finds terrain even less inviting than what he did before…but is great for House Of Tapes himself. Hidden Memory hints at drawing inspiration from the ’90s video game Earthbound (full disclosure: the author’s favorite video game ever, beaten at least 12 times in his lifetime), specifically the final battle against the…bodyless thing Giygas. Hidden Memory, appropriately, is a vaporous collection, the bulk of the EP lacking any driving beat and rather swirling about, the closest House Of Tapes has (might ever?) come to shoegaze. The final two tracks get a bit more pounding, but even then are his most cloud-like to date. It’s a nice switch up, and shows dude’s versatility. Get it here for free.

Movin’ On: Tentenko’s “Good Bye, Good Girl”

Earlier this year, “anti-idol” idols BiS broke up, leaving behind a legacy containing a handful of extreme videos, a lot of nutty collaborations and a song catalog of mixed quality, albeit highlighted by an absolute beast of a single. Since disbanding in July, the members of the group have started making strides in various solo projects…but it’s former BiS member Tentenko who has delivered the first really good song to emerge from that outfit’s dissolution. It’s charm, though, comes from aping the past, not really pushing anything forward – “Good Bye, Good Girl” is a song steeped in ’80s sounds, piled up with sytnhesizer squiggles and big cheesy drum hits. I mean, the video tells you everything, as it is obvious footage of Japan in 2014 made to look like unearthed VHS footage. There’s no shortage of artists revisiting that decade in 2014…whether because they dream of those days of opulence, or just really like smooth electro-pop…but “Good Bye, Good Girl” at least hitches a catchy song to its retro look. Here’s a really solid pop song with a nice bounce to it. Listen above.

New Sakanaction: “Sayonara Wa Emotion”

A little bit back, Sakanaction released the video for “Hasu No Hana,” a slow-burning number that made the most of repetition. Now comes the other side of their most recent single and…it is pretty different! “Sayonara Wa Emotion” skitters from the start, both via the beat and the drippy-droppy synths that pass over it. All of “Sayonara” shifts more than “Hasu No Hana,” changing tempo frequently and adding in more background details. Together, it makes for an overall solid release.

But “Sayonara Wa Emotion’s” biggest strengths also happen to be Sakanaction’s strengths. Like a lot of their finest songs, “Sayonara” is an emotionally charged cut delivered on a stadium-sized level…Sakanaction are a band capable of headlining any Japanese music festival today, so all of the melancholy wrapped up here is packaged in a way built for biggie-sized crowds (even the title is pretty obvious about its intention…you don’t even really need to know Japanese at all to figure out what’s going on there). Yet the opening verse here is detailing a late-night trip to a convenience store to buy canned coffee…before turning into an inner-thrashing about growing cold emotionally. And, like many of Sakanaction’s other highlights, it builds to a big climax, the sort of thing they have gotten incredibly good at. Listen above.

New Ferri: “Butterfly Illumination”

Here’s a change of pace from the louder stuff that has been popping up on this blog over the past week…I last wrote about Ferri a few years back, but lost track of her since. She just released a new album, titled Infinity (errrr, the infinity symbol, that is), and it is a solid listen – she mainly works in a drifty, ambient-pop-ish style where her voice multiplies and everything just sort of floats on by, but she balances those vaporous moments out with more hard hitting tracks. “Butterfly Illumination” – above – touches on both sides. It opens as a soft piano-guided number, with Ferri’s voice trickling in at times, the whole thing very plaintive. Then the beat kicks in, and her voice starts off and this become a much more shifty number.

New Miii: An Invisible Storyteller EP

Tokyo producer Miii has been a busy bee this month. Besides prepping a new EP with his project The Wedding Mistakes, he’s been releasing a few songs here and there. And now…a new EP, called An Invisible Storyteller. SoundCloud tags aren’t a full-proof tool to figuring out the mindset of an artist…but the only one here is “sentimental” and, weirdly enough, this does sorta sound like what I imagine a guy who could easily zoom play at an EDM festival sounds like when reflecting on the past. It’s still noisy and at times chaotic…and “Chimerical Sands” is Miii at his most tiger-eyed, ready to rip shit apart, while “Peacock’s Dance” isn’t far removed…but also features a lot minor-key touches amongst the wub. There’s a lot of piano…and not like house piano, the sort of piano you learn in elementary school…all over the place, such as on the Jersey-Club-leaning opener “Sweet Love,” which is full of gunshot sounds and bed springs but also some melancholy sounding voices and synths running through this thing…it’s scatterbrained, but never really blasting off into pure joy. “An Invisible Storyteller” features hard-hitting bass, but also a lot of reflective vocal samples, while the most emotional cut comes at the very end with “From Bedroom Town,” another piano-accented song that features a heck of a build and pay off. Listen above.