Make Believe Melodies Logo

Tag Archives: LLLL

New LLLL Featuring Smany: “Nebula”

The voices and artists LLLL pulls into their songs tend to be perfect fits for the sounds surrounding them. Smany makes sense to join the Tokyo producer on new song “Nebula” — she’s spent the decade creating spacious electronic songs wherein her voice adds necessary human tension. “Nebula” moves at a swifter pace and features just more happening than in a usual Smany song, featuring synth ripples colliding with the beat and electronic melodies passing through. Yet she slides in well, her more stretched out delivery offering a nice contrast to the quicker tempo. And she ends up helping to add some light to at-times unnerving sounds, which gives “Nebula” a little bit of optimism flowing through it too. Listen above.

New LLLL: Chains “Phase 4: Resemblance”

Even more than previous entries into the Chains series, “Phase 4: Resemblance” offers as strong a front to back listening experience as one could hope for from a three-song set. That’s partially based off pure strength of song, two of which already appeared in the past few months — the shadowy release of “For F” and the lyrically forceful “Falling.” That pair of songs alone highlights two emotional extremes of the LLLL songbook, and together make for a heck of a combo. They are preceded by a new song, “Indefinite Grounds,” featuring frequent collaborator Yeule. That one is the slowest unfurling, but fittingly sets the emotional vibe, with LLLL’s music slowly mutating from muted production to something that almost boils over. Get it here, or listen below.

LLLL Teams Up With Meishi Smile, U-Pistol For “Always” Featuring Calendula

I can earnestly say that, without the internet as it existed in the early 2010s, my life would be completely different. Living in rural Japan, there was a strong but small local community I could rely on, and I’m forever thankful for that, but you also miss out on so much more. Yet back then, the internet felt truly open, full of communities of like-minded people coming together. Which…sure, sounds like today, but rather than gather together to just cloister away and maybe attack the other side, it was a moment where it at least felt like something different was being constructed. An alternative to the monoculture, almost like an alternate musical landscape. Labels like Bunkai-Kei Records, Altema Records, Maltine Records…and let me stop myself here, this spirit (and these labels!) didn’t vanish. Maltine still puts out some of the best music in Japan, and they organize these incredible live shows that, if anything, show that they won — as a friend put it once, the fact that so many people can go from a digital space to a physical club thanks to this netlabel is incredible.

But I’m always thinking about the potential online spaces had back then, when it was really my only keyhole to see something beyond a city home to Japan’s biggest salamander center. And it’s been on my mind this week, with news that club Bullet’s — a space that a professor who studies netlabels once said was the first physical stepping stone for so many of these fledgling digital imprints, that getting a showcase there was massive — plans on closing at the end of March, and because of this song, released via Maltine Records and Zoom Lens.

Let’s not get too goopy — this isn’t simply an ode to a time when the internet was actually a sane place teasing honest-to-goodness advancement. LLLL, Meishi Smile and U-Pistol (Ulzzang Pistol, who also has the project Moon Mask) are reflecting on a deeper connection over the last few years, with help from Calendula who delivers some lovely vocals to the song. The music reflects this, taking elements present in all of their own work and creating something that ebbs and flows between them. And yeah, the lyrics are just as worried about a general passing of time that can’t be tied to a specific non-human place. The players involved in this excel at capturing the melancholy and complexity of life in the 2010s, and this is one heck of a reflection.

But also, I’ve spent all week thinking about it in the context of how I encountered all their music through the internet — and of course Maltine too — and how the feeling of first connecting with all of their music made me feel, and how few internet spaces spark a similar connection (which…maybe I”m just old? Certainly in play). It also helps that, well, the people involved have similar feelings. And this ache persists throughout “Always,” a song wondering what happened to those times and pushing forward. And maybe its very existent is comfort enough. Get it here or listen below (and also…look at all those great remixes! I got so wistful I forgot to talk about those! Just dive in).

New LLLL Featuring U-Pistol: “Falling”

Words have often drifted out of the dreamy electronic compositions of LLLL. Although their are plenty of songs from the Tokyo producer featuring singing obscured by an array of synths (or no words at all), a fair amount also have vocalists coming through clearly to up the emotional ante. “Falling,” though, features what might very well be the most emotionally naked the lyrics on an LLLL song have gotten. They come courtesy of U-Pistol (formerly Ulzzang Pistol), who offers some urgent and immediate words inspired by a rough 2017. Coupled with LLLL’s driving rhythms and, at one point, a guitar solo, this reckoning with depression becomes heightened, and gives “Falling” an extra rush, albeit an emotionally heavy one. Listen above.

Make Believe Melodies’ Favorite 2017 Japanese Albums: #30 – #21

#30 She Talks Silence Sorry, I Am Not

She Talks Silence started as a solo project plucking away in the shadows, before becoming a duo moving ever-so-slightly forward, before this year returning once again as just Minami Yamaguchi, somehow taking a bigger step forward but also becoming harder to hear. Sorry, I Am Not is only available digitally, which in theory would make her reflective rock more readily available, but which is still a single lane. Yet this new digital solitude works well with her sound on Sorry, an album where she both refines and mucks up her hushed sound. The title track rushes out on a skittery beat, but her singing remains closer to a whisper. Yamaguchi continues to put her darker spin on indie-pop on bouncy cuts such as “Walk Away” and “Holy Hands, Holy Voices,” yet she’s also crafted an unsettling lullaby of a song on “More Anti-Yourself” and added ample scuzzy feedback to “There’s No.” As long as their is a way in, She Talks Silence’s world will always draw us in.

Continue Reading