On the one hand…”Peppermint Escape Plan” makes you wonder just what Maltine Records is up to in 2016. What made the netlabel so exciting over the last few years was how it gave fledgling Japanese…and eventually non-Japanese…producers a chance to stand in the spotlight, Maltine serving as detective and megaphone all at once. So far in 2016, they’ve released a (very good) In The Blue Shirt EP and a trio of songs finding producer Mikeneko Homeless collaborating with idol Nemoto Nagi. Fresh off of a ten-year anniversary, it isn’t hard to imagine Maltine being unsure what direction to head in next…do you keep doing what you’ve done, or try to evolve?…but so far 2016 has felt like, when it comes to identify, a bit of wheel spinning.
And yet…Mikeneko Homeless and Nemoto Nagi have been on a tear so far, whatever raised eyebrows Maltine as a concept in 2016 have raised quickly lowered by just how damn solid the music has been. The graceful “Purity” and a re-recorded version of the still-banging “Soba Ga Tabetai” have been highlights, while their collab with Masayoshi Iimori “America” isn’t quite my speed…but has won over plenty. Now comes “Peppermint Escape Plan,” featuring Happy Machine, a gleeful merger of Shibuya-kei gentleness and hyped-up floor release, a fantastic combo that I’m surprised hasn’t been done yet (or, well, been more prominent). If Maltine keeps putting out stuff this exciting, well, that might actually be all that matters. Listen above.