Last year was a year where I mostly turned my ears away from idol music, save for Especia (and Especia Lite), a bit of Negicco and the various projects you could draw a line to Yunomi. Well, that and idol music in Japan is at a place right now ideal for an underground crowd, and I don’t really feel like navigating those catacombs for various reasons (while the big names still have their loyal crowds…Dempagumi.inc have a pachinko machine now, what the heck). Still, this turning away did mean I missed plenty of groups doing interesting things. One was Koutei Camera Girl (and eventually Koutei Camera Girl Zwei), an outfit on Tapestok Records creating dizzying dance pop and more pulsing affairs. The challenge with idols…especially in a climate where most idol groups are “alternative” and not really smuggling new ideas to the mainstream like they were four years ago…is taking a style and doing it in a way that doesn’t leave the listener not particularly interested in member worship thinking “OK, why not I just listen to a non-idol group do this?” Koutei Camera Girl did this well, maybe because they mostly embraced styles that at their core don’t have vocals over them.
Molm’o’mol, a member of said idol group, is launching a new solo project called Ame To Kanmuri. She’s shared her first song, “Lie Night,” and it’s a wonderful bit of faded house pop featuring her rapping over it. If her pop group existed in an up-tempo zone, “Lie Night” shuffles along a past-midnight street, though her rapping is anything but lonely, but rather totally focused, like this is the right time to let it all out. It’s a great song — best debut of, uh, January, at least — and one that is tempting to tie to the latest micro-trend to get press coverage, lo-fi house. Until you see “Lie Night” was produced by Masayuki Kubo, better known as And Vice Versa (or AVV), one of the co-founders of the influential INNIT party in Osaka (Seiho, Magical Mistakes, Madegg, many more). He’s been zeroing in on this worn-down dance for years, and this is the best pop application of it yet, a step up from his previous work with Koutei Camera Girl Zwei. Listen above.