Make Believe Melodies Logo

New Snail’s House: “Alien Pop III”

The Alien Pop series of releases from Snail’s House have been Keitaro Ujiie’s strongest creations to date, although it’s worth noting electro-pop numbers hit my personal taste zone way more than others. Across these releases — including this Spring’s delirious second installment — he’s hit this sweet spot between French touch, Vocaloid as imagined by Livetune, and Perfume’s take on pop. Alien Pop III underlines all the above, but really makes these influences clear. In particular — and, like, completely here to get me wooing — Ujiie lets the Yasutaka Nakata vibes come through clearly on songs like “Invader,” which is a swifter and more filtered “Night Flight” with all the nervous energy in tact. “MAGIK” brings in vocalist Sennzai to go through the digital wash, with a more relaxed but still-giddy number coming out (picture the non-rap parts of “575” if you need comparison). “FUSION” nods to Vocaloid influence, offering up the album’s swiftest melody and a constant stream of syllables. It’s another winning edition to this series, one tapping into a sound that has proven highly influential and reminding how much power it still has. Get it here, or listen below.

Bubblin’ Up: TEMPLIME’s “Sphere”

There’s these moments when younger Japanese electronic artists come through with a track or two bubbling over with energy and excitement, and they get you antsy to see what they can think up next. Duo TEMPLIME’s Sphere offers up two nervy dance numbers anchored by sliced-up vocal skitters and beats taking cues from various strains of British dance music. The title track taps into garage to create a constantly in-motion number eventually giving way to a playroom-ready sound when it lets itself go (this pair are also creating something “kawaii” without making it obvious, despite many of the touches being fitting for that realm of sugary sweetness). There’s a buzz to it that reminds me of early Pa’s Lam System or Lolica Tonica’s “Eyes On You,” a kind of joy overflowing that elevates this a bit. “Crazy ‘Bout U” covers up drum ‘n’ bass beats with sweet guitar melodies and aching vocal samples over top, making this the first time I’ve ever felt like In The Blue Shirt has directly inspired someone. Next step is finding out just how to make this sound all their own, but for now an exciting start. Get it here, or listen below.

New emamouse: “Desolation” (With Nicolò) And “Black place on the edge”

The world emamouse has crafted over dozens of releases becomes more inviting with each visit, like if Narnia was built from wonky synthesizer notes and echoes of denpa song. For me, a huge part of that is that nothing else sounds quite like what you’ll encounter on Black place on the edge, and at a point in time when everyone seems to want to be part of a something popular, I’ve realized I’m happy to vanish into corners featuring pitched-up vocal run-arounds (“a grassy guitar”) and stripped-down numbers made for lonely walks at night (the title track). Get it here, or listen below.

Even emamouse’s more fleshed-out concepts carry an escapist edge to them. Desolation finds them teaming up with Nicolò on a set that revolves around the idea of being left alone in a city that everyone else has abandoned. It’s far less whimsical than their usual solo creations, but even in these more spacious songs they sound like an escape from reality. See the zonked-out mood of “Empty Club” or “Air,” bringing to mind the warped world of Moonside from Earthbound (Tiny Mix Tapes get credit for that one). Even when exploring apocalypse, there’s few places musically I’d rather be. Get it here, or listen below.

Fractured Unity: IKTS’ “No-f”

Tottori creator IKTS turns seeming mess into something mesmerizing on “No-f.” Not to get too deep into simile, but this sounds like the musical equivalent of pouring a bunch of straws onto the ground and watching them spill all over the place. Jagged electronic notes dash all over the place, at first criss-crossing in unpredictable patterns and mostly making a mess. As “No-f” goes along however, all those disjointed parts fall into a pattern that creates a melody — a sharp one that still feels fragmented, but one nonetheless. Listen above.

Kissmenerdygirl Teams Up With MC Matsushima For “Flourishing”

Producer Kissmenerdygirl has gone a more traditional route on Flourishing, but this well-worn path proves to be a good fit for him. On these two songs he teams up with rapper MC Matsushima, and provides him with two beats constructed from City Pop songs that a few years back he would have been speeding up. Here though, he’s slowing down and crafting backdrops suiting Matsushima’s laid-back flow just right (quickly on him…he establishes a nice flow that isn’t too juiced up or too focused on replicating the ’90s, though he could probably get through his introductions a little faster). Maybe what’s most striking is how Kissmenerdygirl takes two pretty well known numbers from Taeko Ohnuki’s Sunshower and makes them one chilled-out space on the title track…and, with the second song here, takes “Plastic Love” and slows it down into something luxurious. Ballsy, but works in this context. Get it here, or listen below.