Cairophenomenons have always let their music unfold at their own strolling pace, but “In The Pye” slows things down in a whole new way. Everything starts normal enough, as the band plays a nice mid-tempo number featuring some conflicted lyrics hinting at a lot of worry and confusion. “What I want to say is…” goes one line, before the song goes into slow motion, the beat nearly vanished from the number and the words now leaning towards a few sentences and a lot of whispered syllables. It’s ghostly, and conveys all of the same confusion as the swifter sections, but with a more mysterious edge to it. Listen above.
The difference between nostalgia and wistfulness can be miniscule. Artist i-fls has long resided in this crack between the two, creating simple songs packed with emotional weight. Commuter towns, family restaurants after last train, spacious parks just outside of Tokyo, longing, browsing the internet for hours on end — i-fls’ song titles have always helped fill in these blanks, though the computer-created melodies skipping along offer plenty of space to paint your own ennui out over them. Few artists this decade have mined one specific theme more than i-fls, but nobody has done it as well, even if I was running out of ways to capture the feeling of staring out a window listening to their music while thinking about life back in 2013.
Not Beautiful View makes this balance clearer the most. Perhaps the description accompanying the album — “in the not glittering days” — helps here, but all it takes is time spent with something like the skippy “Car” or the 8-bit bluster of “Chiaki Breeze” to feel a lot of mixed emotions swirling around i-fls’ Garageband melodies. Specific details fill out the rest — or maybe I’m just letting the twinkling stroll of “Twilight In Hikarigaoka” be overwhelmed by memories of actually living in Nerima and getting it — and moments of real release filter through all the sighs. “The (Nobody) Theatre” just nails this whispy bounce that is downright ecstatic, even if I can see the good times turning to memories right in front of me. Or how “Yoshiko Noticed” is just…perfect, an Apple approximation of acid house run through fleeting feelings. Get it here, or listen below.
— The 10th installment of the Draping series dropped late last week, finding the trio of DJ Fulltono, CRZKNY and Skip Club Orchestra continue to play around with footwork. This time around, all three play around with the same central sample (or at the very least let the main sample stand out more clearly across all tracks), each taking their own approach to a Spanish-language vocal. Get it here, or listen below.
— Diskotopia co-founder BD1982 released a new EP called 7th Door, featuring five spacious rumblers revealing new details as they move along. The entire release feels a little more misty, songs such as the title track and “The Loa” carrying a sense of unease throughout. Same time, BD1982 adds in something like the hoppy “Find a Way,” which still boasts plenty of space but makes the beat front and center. Get it here, or listen below.
— Oyubi continues sharing in a very busy 2019 with “Just In,” an energetic number moving a little bit away from the footwork of other releases in favor of ghettotech. This one opts for simplicity — one great vocal sample surrounded by an aerobic beat that weaves in piano notes and strings as it goes along. Get it here, or listen below.
While the band aren’t quite dashing ahead at a “You Never Kiss” speed, Homecomings’ latest single “Cakes” finds them adding a little more skip in their step. The last few releases from the band have been good, but on the slower side. “Cakes” reminds that ennui can come across even when bouncing along. The song features a persistent drum hop, and they even juice it up a bit by adding in some machine beats. The mood remains the same, somewhere between content and longing for something just out of reach. Listen above.
The most interesting developments for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu pop up outside of the music on “Kimiga Iine Kuretara.” Dig into the credits here and you discover this single came out via a company with the same name as the song itself, rather than Warner Music Japan (no idea what that means, and have no official statements on it so…that’s just speculation). The accompanying video was made in conjunction with Lute, which now puts Kyary closer to Jvcki Wai than Aimyon. Plus, the clip features a segment where a Virtua Fighter Kyary beats up people labelled “staff” (plus a dude who might be the Sekai No Owari guy, at least I hope so). A lot going on here, and it sounds like a bunch of changes for her now!
“Kimiga Iine Kuretara” the song, though, isn’t really a huge departure for her — it’s just a lot tighter. Not to pretend my Twitter feed somehow represents any kind of deeper insights into anything, but I’ve heard a few people saying this is a sort of return to form for Kyary and producer Yasutaka Nakata. Which…that album from last year is still kind of bonkers, give it another listen! “Kimiga” is a better sound pop song, as Nakata loosens up a bit to create something with a little more depth to it (see the woodwind touches, or the 8-bit passages, or the drip-drops — he crams a lot in to this number, but it all clicks). Lyrically might be the most intriguing twist here, with Kyary returning to topics of youth, specifically the power of social media likes and how that digital connection can feel great (another change — English lyrics from the get-go!). I feel you could go deep into what this actually means — direct connection with fans vs traditional power structures — but now I feel like I’m jotting down conspiracy theories. Anyway, the release of this feels like a lot of huge changes happening for Kyary, but the song itself reminds of just how catchy her world can be. Listen above.