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New Tamana Ramen: Kuki EP

Poemcore always felt like it was one or two artists away from developing into a full-fledged micro-movement in the Japanese underground. But it never really formed into something solid to build around, probably peaking with…a virtual YouTuber? That’s all good though, and it has allowed an artist like Tamana Ramen to go off and do their own thing without fear of being fenced off. Her new Kuki EP offers an off-kilter blend of spoken word and rap, set over music that moves effortlessly between bleary-eyed and unsettling. Opener “Raisins” lets her voice unfold over synthesizer gusts, all of it very pleasant until weird distorted gurgles come in to add some tension to a song slowly turning melancholy. “Own” comes closest to positioning Tamana Ramen to the Japanese hip-hop community circa 2019, setting her flow against a twinkly backdrop and slowly letting it deteriorate without turning into faux-Atlanta copies. “01”pivots to synth-pop, offering the most immediate and catchy offering here (fans of Ame To Kanmuri, get on this one), while closer “Genome” (above, in a slightly different form) is a slowly mutating number that keeps everything low key. Listen to it on your favorite streaming service.