Bandcamp’s monthly move to waive their revenue shares, meaning creators get 100 percent of the sales from their music and merchandise over a 24 hour period, has been a huge success in 2020. This campaign has assisted artists during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to place a strain on artists around the globe. So far, millions of dollars have been delivered to creators because of these days, held on the first Friday of every month.
Ahead of the August edition of this campaign, OTAQUEST wanted to highlight some recent Bandcamp releases from Japan worth supporting that came out over the last month. Cases have spiked up once again across the nation — many think a second wave of COVID-19 has arrived just as Japan was easing up on restrictions — though the reaction, at time of writing, hasn’t been as strict as it was in Spring. Still, it wasn’t like a lot of shows and events were happening anyway (some were slowly coming back, but enthusiasm remains low, at least from my vantage point), and artists are still in a tough spot. So support remains vital, and as always, it results in great music. Check out our selections below.
Minori Yoshikawa and TOMC — Reality
The smooth feelings of city pop get a 2020 makeover — complete with vocal manipulation and unsettling rumbles (“Dried Flowers”) — via this collaborative effort. This isn’t fantasy escape into past times, but rather a surprisingly urgent album moving between the smooth and the heartracing (closer “I See You” being one of the finest songs to come out of Japan this year). Bonus points for top-notch album art.
Chip Tanaka — Domingo
Celebrated video game composer Hirokazu Tanaka shows his range beyond 8-bit melodies (well, a few of those appear too) on his second full-length album as Chip Tanaka. Domingo melds a wide variety of genres together, showing his knack for connecting dots and creating engaging work along the way. It’s far more than a simple dip into chiptune, but rather a celebration of what can be done by someone who helped pioneer that style.
Various Artists — sound leakage 2020
Presented by Shibuya’s famed Club Asia, this massive compilation celebrates the city’s electronic community by allowing dozens of creators a chance to shine. Besides helping support a venue trying to soldier through the pandemic, it’s a great intro to the community. Highlights include contributions from DJ WILDPARTY, Upusen and Tomggg.
Klan Aileen — Tanuki
Don’t let the sunshine out your window fool you — sometimes you need slow-burning sludge rock, which this band is more than happy to provide.
In the blue shirt — in my own way EP
One of the reasons I personally am always skeptical of music clearly baiting TikTok is that Kyoto’s in the blue shirt has been making tracks that sound like the textural, rapid-fire pace of that platform for like five-plus years now, No need to fake it, and his latest EP shows how to do it right.
Sapporo Kawaii Daihyo — TAITORU
Hyperactive dance-pop with a cuddly edge remains alive and well up north, as this Hokkaido creator shows on this Technicolor rush. Recommended if you like artists such as YUNOMI, YUC’e or anyone else merging EDM with Harajuku vibes (or if you just need a pick-me-up during some dour times).
KBSNK (TEMPLIME) — 5KETCHY
One half of rising electronic duo TEMPLIME showcases their knack for garage and other dance styles, complete with an all-star set of remixers which includes 2ToneDisco, long-running netlabel fixture yuigot and more.
Sapphire Slows — Emotion Still Remains
The Tokyo electronic artist’s latest finds a mix between hushed ambience and sweat-starting dance, with her own voice fluttering in and out to add to the tension.