New Ventla: For Human Consumption

The thing about Ventla is that after a really prolific streak that saw him practically release a new album every month, he sorta took a break for a bit last year. Well, he’s back, and gone bigger than ever before. Shuji Suzuki’s latest, For Human Consumption, comes via New York imprint Astro Nautico, and features 24 songs of digital sounds intersecting with acoustic flourishes. Which brings up another important thing about Ventla…dude gets shine for releasing so many albums, but the real draw (to me at least), was how every single album tended to establish its own vibe. He’d do a set of songs reminiscent of like Hosono House, and the next album would be a synth-pop marathon. For Human Consumption sorta bridges the gap between a lot of the different styles Ventla has dabbled in, with a few new twists introduced too (check the Parisian street concert of “Mental Health,” or what sounds like a kazoo freak-out on “Copymate”). Elsewhere, he sounds a bit like a wobbly Lullatone (“Paloma”) and gets whistle happy frequently (the bell-accented “National Project”) being a highlight. Listen above, or get it here.

Hercelot Teams Up With Tomggg For “Greengum”

Maltine Records teamed up with the Red Bull Studios Tokyo for a two day event…and the first evening went down yesterday. Producers Hercelot and Tomggg teamed up for a song called “Greengum,” and it is one of those beautiful sonic moments where the stylings of both artists comes through so clearly. Neither gets muddled — Tomggg’s cutesy playroom vibe comes through clearly (those vocals, mainly) while Hercelot’s unpredictability manifests itself in…”Greengum” transforming into a bossa nova song for a bit before blasting off near the end again. Listen above.

The Chill Goes On: Takeaki Oda’s Splash! EP

Remember chillwave? Sure you do. Well, it’s dead, if you ask various kinda-forced articles about the topic. On to…what’s cool now, maybe Pitch Perfect 2 will make a capella cool again.

One of the elements of the Japanese indie-music scene that I find very admirable is how things that eventually get tossed out in the West keep trudging on over here, usually taking on interesting new shapes nobody in the U.S. or England thought of because they were too busy becoming a future-funk virtuoso. Chillwave remains a style certain artists in Japan gravitate to, milking its nostalgia for the past wrapped up in samples and synthesizers and often coming up with lovely ideas. Takeaki Oda’s Splash! screams “chillwave” from the title, and with a vaguely cost-friendly theme running throughout, it is proud of this. The title track is all bouncy fun, synths glistening off while bodies woo-off in the distance.

Splash!, though, resembles the work of Shortcake Collage Tape more than chillwave staples such as Washed Out or Toro Y Moi. Both create a faded sound using technology that ends up looped, and both draw nostalgia from anime samples (see the bubbly “Aquamarine”). And, beneath all the tropical vibes, there is a really longful center to Splash!. “Air,” featuring mumbled singing, reveals the melancholy lurking beneath all those sun dapples, though it is final song “The World Without You” that really pushes it in. It’s a barely there meditation, full of bird chirps and a few muffled lines of singing that resembles American Football more than any chillwave act. Get it here, or listen below.

New Yullippe: “Black Moon”

The best tension comes from the ever-present threat of something…you don’t know what, but something…being present but unseen. Producer Yullippe’s “Black Moon” throbs forward, all oxygen-depleting electronics, interrupted once in awhile by elegant touches, which seems to raise the song out of the tar pit it initially finds itself in. Yet it is all the silence and space around the music — and how Yullippe fills that void with a creeping presence that never bursts through, but always seems lurking. It gives “Black Moon” an extra layer of unease. Listen above.