Bandcamp’s decision to waive their revenue shares on the first Friday of every month — meaning creators get all of the sales from their offerings on the platform over a 24 hour period — started back in March, when the COVID-19 outbreak morphed into a pandemic and disrupted every level of the music industry. This campaign has helped artists during the ongoing global crisis, which carries on and seems set to be part of life for the foreseeable future. So far, millions of dollars have been delivered to creators because of these days, which have received ample praise from the media and consumers.
Ahead of the November installment of this campaign on the 6th, OTAQUEST wanted to highlight some recent Bandcamp releases from Japan over the last month worth supporting. The situation in Japan remains quite stable, with several hundred cases being reported daily, a number significantly less than what you are seeing in the United States and across Europe at the moment. On top of that, the country has by and large adjusted to life with the novel coronavirus pretty well — while many elements of daily life have resumed to something at least kinda resembling what it was like back in February, most people are still taking it seriously. It still feels strange, but overall much less anxiety-inducing than it was about four months ago.
That doesn’t mean the country has teleported back to the heyday of 2019, though. The music industry is slowly inching towards a more familiar way of operating, but it still has a long way to go before feeling like it once was. That’s probably even more true for independent venues — the results of a Save Our Space survey shows how tough it has been and continues to be for physical spaces — and artists. The situation is better overall, but still hard for many. Which makes it important to continue supporting creators through campaigns like this, especially when so much great music is available too.
Snail’s House — Imaginarium
Tokyo electronic artist Snail’s House always finds ways to evolve in new works, whether introducing more orchestral splashes or weaving real-world sound samples into their fantastical musical worlds. The best moments on latest album Imaginarium, however, find them playing around with familiar ideas and, on “morph,” literally taking samples from their older work to create a new interpretation of what they’ve done. Plenty of fresher developments emerge across the nine songs here — the start-stop rumble of “summerscape” makes for one of their finer moments as of late, with the emotional punch still coming through — yet it is seeing the artist find new life to what they’ve done before that makes it truly linger.
Yunosuke — Proto
The beauty of Vocaloid music is how this corner of creation allows fans multiple corners to explore, from rock to rap. Electronic and dance-pop, though, is the sound at the roots of this community, and producer Yunosuke celebrates it in all its giddy glory on the energetic Proto. One of this album’s great accomplishments is how smoothly it makes the digi-delivery of a Vocaloid sound, with the vocals meshing up perfectly with the synth wobbles and pounding beat.
Punipunidenki — DENSHI DISCO MITSURIN EP
Otaquest has already highlighted just what makes this EP from punipunidenki worthy of your time, but I’ll throw in just what a wonderful escape this four-song set offers. From the fast-paced electronic rush of the opener to the jazzier meditations found on “goodbye to paradise,” this is a welcome sonic space to dip into and get lost in for a bit.
ItoShin — BABY
Released via the consistently great Fruit Parlor label, trackmaker ItoShin’s BABY delivers a pleasing flow of house numbers made Technicolor thanks to their synth melodies and the vocal samples spinning across these songs. For an instant boost in mood, put on “Got it” or the title track.
Various Artists — HIHATT5TH
tofubeats’ HIHATT imprint has been responsible for some of the best dance music coming out of Japan over the last five years. To celebrate half-a-decade of existence, they put out this compilation, which features nervy remixes of HIHATT numbers courtesy of Pasocom Music Club and Cool Japan, alongside originals, including a new one from netlabel legend dj newtown.
HASAMI Group — DOITORA
HASAMI Group is one of those imposing underground acts with a lot of albums under their belt and no easy way in. So why not start with the latest? DOITORA is madcap, at times abrasive, listen punctuated by moments of beautiful do-it-yourself pop melodies. Which means…just as good a place to jump in as any.
Native Rapper — Magnet
Kyoto creator Native Rapper blurs genre lines in their music, letting hip-hop meld into netlabel-inspired dance, all filtered through a pop-friendly lens. A lot of artists have gone down this path recently, but Native Rapper still does it better than most, with new EP Magnet underlining how they continue to build up. Check the collaboration with Masayoshi Iimori for extra lift.
Submerse — Get You Down
Long-running Tokyo electronic artist Submerse plays around with drum ‘n’ bass and footwork to create a speedy but ultimately dreamy release ideal for happy reflection.
Neko Hacker — Isekai Travel
This project continues to combine chugging rock ideas with high-energy electronic elements, making for an up-tempo listen that never turns constricting. The key to Isekai Travel’s charm, though, are the guest vocalists, who add the most brightness to these tunes.
love solfege — ad terminatio
To close out this month, a more dramatic — and at times oddball — collection from pop project love solfege. As quirky as it can get, they also can deliver a straight-up charming piano ballad when needed.