Pa’s Lam System has been one of the…if not the…best electronic producer in Japan for the last five years. The highlights are…pretty insane: “Bit By Bit,” “I’m Coming,” “Like A Lady,” this HyperJuice remix that caused me to spill coffee on my computer once. That nobody in Japan or abroad has gotten them to produce a pop song yet is shortsighted, and I think a lot of elements Pa’s played around with during this savage stretch of music are eventually going to start popping up in music in like two or three years (see: how every stock YouTube background song and even big-time hits incorporate ideas that were all over SoundCloud in like 2012). I was interviewed around the 2:50 mark of this video during Maltine’s 10th anniversary show last year, and you might notice I’m disgustingly sweaty. That’s because this happened right after Pa’s Lam System’s set, and they always get me to lose my shit.
They deserve a bigger audience, and they are in theory getting that shot with “Twiststep,” a single being released through major label Toy’s Factory (home to Babymetal, to name just one example). With it comes a lot of major label touches — a new logo, a music video (above), and fresh helmets. I received an advance copy of “Twiststep” about two weeks before today, and my first thoughts upon listening to it were…sort of let down? Personal expectations for this group are always skyscraper high, but my ears fixated on the elements that seemed like a grab at the still-booming EDM market here in Japan…screeching bass drops, trap-derived beats that mostly remind me of “Dirty Vibe,” a general air of Mad Decent-ness. None of these things are outright bad…commission me to write my alternate history where CL just gets “Dirty Vibe” as her debut American single, it’s good!…but “Twiststep” initially felt like a trio always ahead of the pack opting to match up to it.
In the two weeks that have passed, though, I’ve realized I focused too much on those elements at the expense of “Twiststep” as a whole (also that it’s really the single’s other new song “E.I.C” offering a glimpse of a more resigned Pa’s Lam System, taking all its cues from that one Major Lazer song). The bulk of “Twiststep” features all the things I love about the group — a swift build, taffy-pulled vocals celebrating sound over meaning, moments of pure release. Not all of the sounds hit quite right, but “Twiststep” also moves so fast that nothing really overstays, Pa’s ability to always be bending in a new direction working to their advantage here. And even with its stabs at maybe landing them at a biggie-sized fest, “Twiststep” is still better than like 90 percent of the music that actually gets played at something like Ultra Japan. “Twiststep” is a first step towards seeing what Pa’s Lam System can do with a (potential) larger audience, and one that will probably still make me sweat stupidly next time I see them live. Listen below.