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Skittery Synthesizer: Vocaloid Juke

The title, as beautiful as it sounds, is not totally honest — it is more like “singing-synthesizer juke,” as the voices popping up across this collaborative album between Omoide Label and Massatsu Records come from a variety of sources (one example — the sixth song here uses a computer-speak program, one that helpfully lays out how a beat is developed, including the introduction of the Amen break). Regardless, this album finds a handful of producers creating juke numbers using digi vocals, some embracing the sound of a virtual singer amidst the chopped-up sounds of the genre, others actually trying to make proper songs over the style. It goes off in all sorts of directions, but plenty of interesting ideas..and good tracks…come out of the combo. Get it here, or listen below.

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New Sapphire Slows: “Speculation”

Sapphire Slows will release a new EP, The Role Of Purity, out at the end of March via Nous. Ahead of that, she’s shared “Speculation,” a skeletal bit of electronic music getting a lot of mileage out of space. She strings together “Speculation,” adding small parts as the song twinkles forward, a lot of the most intriguing details happening in the background, such as her voice rippling off and adding a haunting effect to the whole song. Listen above.

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New Native Rapper Featuring Lulu: “Imasara”

“Imasara” marks the first time in Native Rapper’s young career…that I know of at least…where he has had to accommodate another voice beside his own, electronically manipulated one. Lulu joins the Kyoto producer on this twisty-tury love song, and it is a good test to see if his music can work alongside a voice not being played around with. And Lulu is as good a vocalist you can get, given her huskier delivery. “Imasara” works, as it is a little less frantic than some of the songs Native Rapper handles on his own, leaving more space for him and Lulu to duet over, the two trading lines. Yet he isn’t abandoning what he has done, as “Imasara” still features nickel turns and ear-grabbing details (the little squeaky sound…but not a bed squeak…that creeps in at points, or the horns), not to mention his familiar digi delivery, which makes for a nice contrast with Lulu’s untouched style. A nice whirlwind for Valentine’s Day that highlights Native Rapper’s musical skills alongside his delivery. Listen above.

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Shiny Noises: PF’s PF$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

The most intriguing development in Japanese music in 2016 was a new wave of experimental music celebrating noise (and noises) over meaning. And it still feels just as exciting a movement in 2017, with Wasabi Tapes leading the charge. PF’s PF$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ is the latest album to create beauty out of cacophony, and offers one of the lusher images of this style to date. The vivid texture and HD quality of sounds remains, but for the most part PF puts them into a softer, almost reverent context…or at least as much as one can given the whirlwind of samples slamming against one another. Take a track such as “Water Fairies,” crammed up with vocal samples and little quick details. Yet it always maintains a crystaline vibe, the melody rippling off peacefully throughout. All of the album is full of these moments — of woodwinds threading together cartoon blasts, or reimagining the sound of Yoshi (a sound both played out in future bass, and which a lot of experimental songs as of late have indirectly sounded like) into something oddly peaceful. For those seeking a little beauty in a media saturated world, Wasabi Tapes always has you covered. Get it here, or listen below.

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New SAWA: “Oboroge Dancing”

Long-running electro-pop artist SAWA is back, having just released a new mini-album and now sharing the song “Oboroge Dancing” from it. It’s an up-tempo track featuring shimmering details and an EDM-era breakdown, one that slides in nicely with the song as a whole (considering how much festival-ready stuff is influenced by electro-pop, it makes sense). It’s an enjoyable bit of pop, with the only real drawback being the video, which embraces the near-shark-jump that is “shot for iPhone.” But I’m not running a tech site, and “Oboroge Dancing” is a nice slice of electro-pop in 2017. Listen above.

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