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Prepare For A Discombobulating Time Warp With Schau Essen 2, Featuring Coffee And TV And Boogie Idol Among Others

The City Pop revival chugs on in the Japanese music industry, and as has been pointed out by Ryotaro Aoki at The Japan Times, it’s basically just a joke. So bless outposts like B.O.O.S.T.R and compilations such as the just-released Schau Essen 2, for actually diving into the at-times grotesque sounds of Bubble Era Japan rather than just use them as a hip slogan. What makes this set endearing actually stems from an element not typically associated with City Pop, or ’80s funk, or anything one really associates with that era — the imperfections add a nice human-edge to all the neon. Coffee And TV’s opener “Drive With Me” is a shimmering bit of disco-pop, featuring the producer singing over it (“vocal is shit. It’s me” he writes), which adds a sincerity that makes it stand out. Or how one just-over four minute track here is actually a radio show skit (starring one person doing voices). Or how a shimmering number from Boogie Idol gets accentuated by what sound like alligator chomping sounds and some woozy noises in the back.

Yet for all these moments, Schau Essen 2 shines because of great, catchy songs. C-Side Sea Site delivers a highlight early on with the sun-soaked “Summer Reflection,” while the beat picks up a bit for the squiggly “Bubble Over” courtesy of Asuka Tanaka. Coupled with a handful of great instrumentals, it makes for a good collection with plenty of charm. Get it here or listen below.