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Category Archives: Music

New CRZKNY: “Hong Kong”

Editor’s Note: Hello, long time no see! After a break from blogging due to family issues, I’m starting up, though it might still be infrequent. Thanks for your continued support.

Hiroshima juke producer CRZKNY has been political since the very start of the decade, kicking back at Japan’s nuclear power industry and the government in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. He hasn’t slowed down since, and newest track “Hong Kong” turns its attention to happenings elsewhere in Asia. While it features samples of protestors in the city from this year, “Hong Kong” leaves enough space for it to function as a call to arms for anywhere in the world, anchored by CRZKNY’s familiar approach to beats, which goes for the pummeling. Rather than crush, though, “Hong Kong” uses this energy to build momentum and become a rallying cry. Listen above.

New Normcore Boyz: “Anti Social Club”

You’ve got a winner when your rap video features choreographed dancing and lyrics that skirt pretty close to J-pop category. Normcore Boyz have found themselves in the less charming “how much can we sound like American rap without adding anything new” camp a few times, but in recent times have been far stranger, creating songs that feel not far off from Dreams Come True lyrically and straight-up Christmas songs. “Anti Social Club” is another welcome addition to this lane, with the only possible American artist it will run up against is Vic Mensa. The latest from the group features the most up-tempo beat they’ve ever rapped over, and each member takes a turn showing off their own skill over it, in a way I can’t really recall in slower numbers. Worked in there are lyrics about shooting stars and summer memories…a welcome dash of Oricon penmanship that helps give this one a unique flavor. Listen above.

New HiRO.JP: “A Long Time”

The last few Local Visions’ releases didn’t offer much room to get all verbose about nostalgia and different angles on the past. Ahhhh, but here comes HiRO.JP with a three-song set to get the brain racing again. The project has been playing around with the sonic idea of city pop, doing it far more faithfully than younger Japanese bands dabbling in throwback sounds, Western producers fiddling with the concept or K-pop companies trying to recreate dazzling bubble sounds. A Long Time uses locked-in bass notes, strings, synth twinkles and backing vocals to create one of the better recreations of the sound. Critical to that is a real longing lingering in songs, with the vocals on the title track adding welcome tension to an otherwise sleek cut, and the previously released “Last Month” matching a steady drip of wonky electronics with the sweetest singing they’ve managed yet. It can’t actually approach the actual feeling of those days, but the feeling rings through clearly. Get it here, or listen below.

New TEMPLIME And Hoshimiya Toto: “Watertank” EP

Look away for a second, and production project TEMPLIME have started trending upwards. Following the buoyant Sphere, the duo have started working with SAWA on a new song and are set to appear at live events also featuring the likes of kz. The real sign of TEMPLIME moving on up, however, is the overall quality of their new Watertank EP with Hoshimiya Toto. It’s a bit tough figuring out just what Toto’s deal is — I’d say they aren’t a Virtual YouTuber per se, and they opt for “virtual creator.” Yet here they sound at home over TEMPLIME’s high-energy electro, adding a nice human (human?) touch to songs prone to diving into pit-ready drops at various points, or letting hop-scotching beats dominante. Get it here, or listen below.

New Masterpiece Share ” Museum,Zoo,Station” Featuring Dj Badboi, ΔKTR And More

To hear the entirety of New Masterpiece’s latest compilation Museum,Zoo,Station, you’re going to need to get yourself the cassette version. My player is currently stuck in a closet waiting be set-up, but thankfully one of Japan’s better labels devoted to online-centric micro-genres has posted half of their latest online for anyone to enjoy. Museum,Zoo,Station gathers together tracks from a mix of Japanese and international producers, with the latter counting the likes of death’s dynamic shroud and Golden Living Room (working together here on a zoning-out electronic number offering space to just zone out to). Japan’s DJ Badboi delivers bouncing future-funk on “Milk & Sugar,” waiting a bit for the vocal sample to hit so that the excitement of its arrival is all the better, while old pal ΔKTR reminds of their skills at out-of-time loops via “Video Vision Valence.” The most surprising standout of the first half is Tokyo Kabuki Boys, a vaporwave project “based in Tokyo” but thanks to that niche style’s tendency to just use Japan as a decoration, a claim I’ve always been unsure about. Wherever they really are, the “skits” they deliver are delightful little blasts of slowed-down atmosphere, sometimes loading up on weather report samples or other times dropping twinkling rumbler in “skit 3.” Get it here, or listen below.