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New TEMPLIME And Hoshimiya Toto: “Watertank” EP

Look away for a second, and production project TEMPLIME have started trending upwards. Following the buoyant Sphere, the duo have started working with SAWA on a new song and are set to appear at live events also featuring the likes of kz. The real sign of TEMPLIME moving on up, however, is the overall quality of their new Watertank EP with Hoshimiya Toto. It’s a bit tough figuring out just what Toto’s deal is — I’d say they aren’t a Virtual YouTuber per se, and they opt for “virtual creator.” Yet here they sound at home over TEMPLIME’s high-energy electro, adding a nice human (human?) touch to songs prone to diving into pit-ready drops at various points, or letting hop-scotching beats dominante. Get it here, or listen below.

New Masterpiece Share ” Museum,Zoo,Station” Featuring Dj Badboi, ΔKTR And More

To hear the entirety of New Masterpiece’s latest compilation Museum,Zoo,Station, you’re going to need to get yourself the cassette version. My player is currently stuck in a closet waiting be set-up, but thankfully one of Japan’s better labels devoted to online-centric micro-genres has posted half of their latest online for anyone to enjoy. Museum,Zoo,Station gathers together tracks from a mix of Japanese and international producers, with the latter counting the likes of death’s dynamic shroud and Golden Living Room (working together here on a zoning-out electronic number offering space to just zone out to). Japan’s DJ Badboi delivers bouncing future-funk on “Milk & Sugar,” waiting a bit for the vocal sample to hit so that the excitement of its arrival is all the better, while old pal ΔKTR reminds of their skills at out-of-time loops via “Video Vision Valence.” The most surprising standout of the first half is Tokyo Kabuki Boys, a vaporwave project “based in Tokyo” but thanks to that niche style’s tendency to just use Japan as a decoration, a claim I’ve always been unsure about. Wherever they really are, the “skits” they deliver are delightful little blasts of slowed-down atmosphere, sometimes loading up on weather report samples or other times dropping twinkling rumbler in “skit 3.” Get it here, or listen below.

Part Timing: Pearl Center’s “Near Dawn” EP

I’m kind of not sure why most of these songs couldn’t have functioned as songs for Paellas, but I assume new quartet Pearl Center gives Matton (vocalist of the aforementioned Paellas) some freedom to do things a group now signed with Universal Music Japan might not be able to. The Near Dawn EP introduces the project with four songs of hushed, R&B-tinged music that isn’t too far from other late-night downer sounds, though less guitars factor into this one and…it can actually get pretty happy. Rather, songs such as “Yellow Rose” places Matton’s higher delivery over wispy synthesizer melodies that build towards something resembling a stride delivered in confidence. Other songs aren’t quite as upbeat, with R&B elements being pitched towards something more heavy hearted and sparse dance-pop numbers leaving plenty of space for Matton to show off his vocal acting. Whatever name they come out under, Matton and his cohorts show they still can pull listeners in with vibes that don’t always seek out a happy ending. Listen above or on your preferred streaming service.

Charging Station: Boy Objects’ “Boy Objects”

The jump from indie-pop to synth-soaked work isn’t that far, and Japan boasts a surplus of acts either exploring anorak-wrapped rock or nostalgia-evoking dance-pop. So why not dabble in both? Boy Objects finds Yuta Ozaki of Youthmemory teaming up with Masayuki Karaki to create cinema-sized synth-pop swelling with teenage emotion. Boy Objects the EP isn’t going to change your mind on this stuff — you listen to M83 once, you get what this is about — but the pair do a solid job landing the feels central to this sound. The synth notes take center stage, and on a song like opener “Love With A Desire” they constantly move up to big, wordless peaks. Get it here, or listen below.

New Snail’s House: “Love Magic”

Trying to keep tabs on the Snail’s House universe can be a slightly complicated matter, as the artist behind the project also releases music under other aliases, and even that project features specific series dwelling on certain styles and moods (Alien Pop, Ordinary Songs). Love Magic works almost like a sampler of Snail’s House’s many moods. “Petrichor” and “Cinnamon” follow the same high-energy formula found on the Alien Pop releases, complete with sliced-up vocals cascading over the electro beats. It’s in this uptempo mode that Snail’s House delivers “Pinky Promise,” one of their finest yet and evidence that Snail’s House has gone from an artist on the border of lo-fi hip-hop beats to maybe being, like, Yasutaka Nakata-level good at the speedy stuff. The back end of Love Magic goes in a sparser direction, with skippier fare like “Mint” leading into one of the most atmospheric tracks Snail’s House has ever conjured up with “Natsu Matusri.” This is Snail’s House at their most well-rounded, all of their approaches on full display and approaching their best. Get it here, or listen below.