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Elen Never Sleeps And Super VHS Release Split EP, Featuring Taquwami Remixes

Here’s a nice late-summer surprise – Elen Never Sleeps and Super VHS have teamed up to release a new split EP, each artist contributing one new track. Neither of the songs on the White Surrender/Stuck On You release mark big stylistic changes for either act, but both find the pair of Tokyo artists taking baby steps in new directions. Elen Never Sleeps steps out from the dreamy haze he’s inhabited over the majority of his artistic career, letting his voice drift into the open over a minimalist beat, some guitar and the occasional whispy background voice. It’s a daring move that mostly pays off – although some of the higher notes can sound awkward, the majority of the song is sung in a straightforward way that sounds intimate against the bare-bones backdrop. Super VHS, meanwhile, sound more like a garage-rock band than they ever have before on “Stuck On You.” It’s short but does come complete with some whimsical noises in the back, though.

The EP also includes remixes of both songs courtesy of Taquwami, which makes this an even better summer surprise. His remix of “White Surrender” actually sounds more like one expects an Elen Never Sleeps’ song to sound – he muffled the vocals a bit more, and everything comes off as a little hazier. Take out the slowed-down voices scattered about the track and this could have been an Elen original. His reworking of “Stuck On You,” done under the electro-dance moniker Occult You, is more radical – the fuzz gets scrubbed off in favor of Toro-Y-Moi-flavored synth blasts, the entire track transformed from fast rocker to fidgety dance number. Download the EP for free here, or listen below.

Make Believe Mix For July 2012 Featuring Taquwami, Elen Never Sleeps And Rapunzel8083

Here’s a new Make Believe Mix, highlighting some of our favorite music from July. Lot of variety this time around, ranging from the fidgety electronic sounds of Taquwami, the dreamy meditations of Elen Never Sleeps, the indie-pop stylings of BOYISH and The Paellas, and the surrealist whatever-you-call-it music of Rapunzel8083.

Below is a list of artists and songs appearing in this month’s mix, in chronological order. All artists featured gave me permission to include their music in this mix.

Taquwami “Romantic Gaze”From the Blurrywonder EP.

Elen Never Sleeps “Slow (Neu)”Online release.

BOYISH “The Hidden Secrets”From The Hidden Secrets EP.

The Paellas “Following”From the Following EP.

Rapunzel8083 “Dalí Jazz”Online release.

New Elen Never Sleeps: “Slow (Neu)”

“Slow” originally appeared on Moscow Club’s C86 compilation back in the spring, but has now been touched up a bit (hence the “Neu” in the title) and sounds a lot crisper than Elen Never Sleeps’ original version. Well, it sounds as crisp as something so hazy can sound – the song title is almost an understatement, because “Slow” practically crawls, the guitars and drums sounding glacial. It’s all intentional, though, a decision meant to match up with Elen Never Sleeps repeated cries of “but you slow down/slow down/slow down,” delivered in a dejected-but-pretty voice that this project has gotten so good at utilizing. The original version was good, but this slightly fleshed-out version shows what can happen when an artist spends time perfecting their creations. Listen below.

New Elen Never Sleeps: Open Air Dance EP

I’ve never really pictured the music Elen Never Sleeps records as being “sad,” the stuff meant to be looped in the background as someone cries into a pillow in their room. His use of space and reverb certainly sound downtrodden, but the Tokyo artist’s voice always seemed much more than simple sad sackery. In terms of overused words, I would say it’s dreamy stuff, but pressed to come up with a metaphor, I’d describe it as staring out of a car window around midday while turning over various memories while also coming to terms with what they are.

Still, the title track to Elen Never Sleeps’ new EP Open Air Dance surprises because it sounds practically giddy. His guitar notes are higher, and the beat actually sounds like it is encouraging dancing, Elen Never Sleeps dropping an exclamation point at the end when he introduces party-leaning percussion (bongos?). Even the vocals sound happier, even though the lyrical content still features a few eyes-to-the-ground moments (“clearly I need to go somewhere else,” along with various hints at needing to find some new scenery). The rest of Open Air Dance isn’t quite as outright with its bliss, with tracks “The Sweetest Thing” and “Drumming Gemini” (the latter being one of his skippiest to date, albeit still shrouded in the same sleepy ennui he’s gotten good at making) further making the case that Elen Never Sleeps should join Jesse Ruins on the Captured Tracks roster. Get the EP here, or listen below.

Make Believe Mix For January 2012 Featuring Sugar’s Campaign, Occult You And Cloudy Busey

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This year started off on a great note for Japanese music, as so many artists released great material in January. Heck, there is so much stuff not on this month’s Make Believe Mix that deserves more love that it is pretty staggering. Yet what did make it on this 27-minute mix were some of our favorite tunes of the past 31 days. Sugar’s Campaign and Magical Mistakes rep for Osaka-based party INNIT, while :visited’s “Parade Dream” works as this month’s CUZ ME PAIN addition. Elen Never Sleeps provides a wistful break before we dive back into electronic-leaning jams courtesy Occult You. And closing it all out, the gorgeous, lonely “Up To You (If You Love Me)” by Cloudy Busey.

Below is a list of artists and songs appearing in this month’s mix, in chronological order. Click the links to read more about them and find out how to buy/get their music. All artists featured gave me permission to include their music in this mix.

Sugar’s Campaign “Netokano” – New single. Watch the video here.

Magical Mistakes “Running Water” – From the Special Friends EP. Buy here.

:visited “Parade Dream” – From the forthcoming cassette True Chances out in early February. Site here.

Elen Never Sleeps “My Aquamarine” – From his newest digital single. Download it here.

Occult You “Psychic Feelings” – New online release. Download here.

Cloudy Busey “Up To You (If You Love Me)” – Online release. Listen here.