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Westside Bounce: AFAMoo’s “New York, New York” And “Surf”

Kobe-based producer AFAMoo has been sharing house tracks that sound like a layer dust sits on top of them for a year now (lo-fi house, if that works better for you), and a handful of them are quite nice. But his latest two releases feel like particular breakthroughs, partially because they find a groove all their own and rise above simple sonic trendiness. “Surf” offers up disco shine that glides ahead, coming across surprisingly clear (and downright sunny) for an artist who often preferred faded sounds in the past. Check the congas, in particular, adding a tropical vibe that never overwhelms. Get it here, or listen below.

Longer but just as good is “New York, New York.” At over eight minutes long, it goes through a lot of phases — starting with a bouncing beat quickly revealing a delicate piano line giving the song its emotional core, that then gets toughened up a bit via a sample shout-out to the titular city. While I’m not one to glorify songs about New York — if there’s one place in the world that needs less attention, it’s there — the simplicity and catchiness of “New York, New York” really charms. Get it here, or listen below.

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New De De Mouse: Via Alpha Centauri

De De Mouse always knows how to brighten up a mood. He played this weekend’s Ultra Japan 2017 festival, and his set was such a joyful blast of chopped-up syllables and keyboard twinklings. A fair amount of said performance featured cuts from the recently released Via Alpha Centauri, a bright set following up this year’s Dream You Up. While both carry on a sci-fi theme of sorts — this EP is inspired by the story Night On The Galactic Railroad — his latest veers closer to last year’s Summer Twilight, eschewing the R&B inspired vocal hiccups of Dream You Up for a De De Mouse throwback. The same shimmer comes across on cuts such as “Wanna Dance,” with voices split so they found particularly fluttery, and the sparser “Rigil.” Another link to his EP from last year — more pronounced Japanese instruments, such as on the July fireworks-display of “Otters For Fete.” Get it here, or listen below.

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Fogpak #19 Arrives, Featuring Loopcoda, Chanbe, Fire Emoji And Many More

Always a good month when a new Fogpak compilation emerges, bringing with it a handful of budding trackmakers from Japan and beyond. The 19th edition emerged on Bandcamp tonight, boasting the theme of “reverse” and featuring an ever-shrinking tracklist. The latter fact, though, isn’t a bad thing, as a tighter run gives this edition of the long-running compilation series an album-like feel…helped on by how nearly every song here operates in a softer (or, at least not hard-hitting) way. Ultimately, the theme feels more like a reference to the past…i.e. nostalgia or melancholy…with the songs more reflective and spacious.

As is always the case with Fogpak, the best way to go is dive in and find your favorites. The familiar names deliver for me — Loopcoda continues a hot streak with his fizzy number here, featuring some twisted vocal samples that give it a disorienting feeling. Chanbe, meanwhile, offers up a lithe bouncer on “Evil,” while nay closes out the album with the acoustic whirring of “Re-birth,” serving as a nice bookend to American artist Middle School’s “I Slept Through The Snow.” New names, meanwhile? Fire Emoji comes cloaked in relative mystery — also, that name — but offers up a hiccuping bit of mid-tempo niceness on “Bird Language,” featuring a sneaky piano melody giving way to bubbly center, while similarly vague project VR_Sub offers one of the busiest songs with the post-Tomggg playroom pop of “I’ve Forgotten.” Get it here, or listen below.

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New Cemetery: Excoriation

Producer Cemetery is keeping busy, as much as one constructing uneasy but at times peaceful electronic music can get. The project’s latest EP, Excoriation, comes via Spanish label angoisse, and highlights the lighter side of a project that can get dark (I mean, it’s called Cemetery). The producer gets downright spiritual on “Unknown Stains In Yr Memory,” a lithe song featuring woodwinds and bright keyboards, giving way to a vocal sample looped over and over again until it becomes a meditative mantra. Following number “Cosmo” plays with space, allowing silence between waves of electronics, disrupted only by some quivering additions. Still, more uncomfortable passages emerge, such as on the soft-to-loud “ADD” and the gurgling “Affordance.” Listen above, or get it here.

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New House Of Tapes: Nu Tears

Nagoya’s House Of Tapes releases music at a fast clip, but credit to him for also keeping listeners on their toes. His latest album, Nu Tears, moves away from his recent return to crushing noise to embrace something that, while still cacophonous, hides something more dynamic within. Nu Tears mixes more earnest, soft moments with the fuzz, highlighted by the twinkling echoes and fidgety electronics of “Cure” or the squiggly whiplash of “Need Sucide,” a song running through at least three distinct sections. Of course, noise appears plenty too. “Hopefully Piece” smashes from the beginning, while even the semi-spacious “New Dawn” pulverizes. Get it here, or listen below.

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