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New Tominaga: Limbus And Songs

Electronic artist Tominaga highlights two sides of her sound on a pair of albums that came out at the end of May. Limbus gathers several of her ambient, often wordless, creations from 2016 to now, highlighting her approach to constructing sound exclusively. The revelation is she’s capable of squeezing a lot of feelings out of these drifting works — the title track moves from something unsettling and dark to calming by the time it reaches its final stretch. Others, like “Untitled #1,” come off as intriguing textural experiments, with harps and keyboard bleeps twirling around one another. It can get a bit intense at times, but Limbus shows Tominaga’s ability to create absorbing soundscapes. Get it here, or listen below.

Songs gathers songs featuring her singing — the music often isn’t far removed from what you would find on Limbus, just made a bit more compact and spacious to give Tominaga room to sing over. Songs such as “Coral Waltz” feature a chorus of Tominaga’s coming together, while “Pain Is Mine” offers up minimalist pop, complete with horn blurts. Get it here, or listen below.

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Blurred Dreams: Madame_nhu’s “Spacy”

Madame_nhu describes themselves as a “dream artist,” which on first brush simply conjures up images of shoegaze bands occupying space in a cramped Tokyo club. Yet “Spacy” offers up a bit of a surprise, at least to those made slightly cynical by Japan’s eternal love of My Bloody Valentine…it’s more blurry than anything else, Madame_nhu’s digitally warped vocals tumbling over themselves over a funky bass lines and skippy vocal samples that give it an out-of-time feel (fans of Toro Y Moi’s Causers Of This, this one’s for you!). Listen above.

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New Yackle: SnowySummer EP

Ano(t)raks is probably best known for being a destination for new Japanese indie-pop (or, if the term fits for you, city-pop inspired cuts), but the netlabel-turned-physical-label also has a long history of highlighting electronic music, ranging from Kai Takahashi’s 80s-brushed numbers (which eventually morphed into the lounge pop of Lucky Tapes) to the minimalism of Boe Oakner. So the label sharing producer Yackle’s new SnowySummer EP isn’t a new twist, but rather a return to one of the more overshadowed cornerstones of Ano(t)rakcs. It’s a spliced up set, starting off with the shifty “OrionCider,” which moves from skittery beat experiment to something imitating the rumbling sounds of Southern hip-hop (albeit with cuddlier singing on type) before finding a middle ground between the two…and, uh, channeling Okinawan folk music. A lot going on here! It’s a little more straightforward on the pop bounce of the title track. Rounding it out are two remixes, one via The Oto Factory and the other by Pasocom Music Club. Get it here, or listen below.

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Travel Guide: Fujin Club’s “Tabi To Ferry”

Everyone could use a vacation at some point, and the music created by Fujin Club makes dropping everything and hopping on the next train to the coast sound necessary. It’s tough pinpointing just what Fujin Club is — it’s a group of four women, all of whom hide their faces and refer to themselves as Fujin A through D, alongside . The bio goes they live on an island (Sado Island), and are all housewives who got together to take part in a pop art project. The only known contributor is producer Nozomu Sato, who crafts their windswept sound. This reads like an idol concept, and you could argue this is just a clever mutation on the idea. They might also be an island PR project! Whatever Fujin Club are, the music they make is relaxing and energetic, often themed around everyday life on a far-off island that, to a city dweller, reads like sweet escape. They haven’t released a ton of music, but what they have is jaunty and loaded up with flutes and horns courtesy of Sato, who crafts music capturing the feeling of a slow life. A particular highlight is 2015’s “Gourmet Kikou,” a song about eating delicious food.

Their latest, “Tabi To Ferry,” builds on the travel theme, as it is about taking a trip on a ferry (conveyed in the video pretty clearly). Musically, though, it finds Sato making his production move at a familiarly skippy pace, coming close to something resembling the continental daydreams of Pizzicato Five, but with the Pan-Am decor swapped out for regional prefecture pamphlets (this is the point you could fashion a lot of big-picture thinkpieces). It’s a brisk number featuring pleasant vocals from the group themselves, building up to a particularly sweet hook bringing to mind Vanilla Beans or Negicco at their jazziest. Listen to that one above, at the top of the page.

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New Metoronori: “Carmin Seishitsu No Shi”

Needed something to write up quickly for a busy night…and along comes Metoronori with a new, short look into her alternate-dimension pop world. This brief but intriguing song is the first taste of her new album Hanryo, which is out in August. Definitely one to look forward for those who like their warm weather months soundtracked by something just off-kilter. Listen above.

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