Japanese Music Highlights for the Week of Aug. 16 Featuring Omoya, Nao Yoshioka and CraftCity
Lots of great Japanese music comes out every week, but keeping track of it all is a tough task. The folks at OTAQUEST want to help. In this series, we’ll cover new Japanese music highlights from various areas of the industry over the past seven days worth your time. This week: limber funk, spirit-lifting modern soul music, and high-energy dance tracks defined by spliced-up vocal samples.
Omoya — DAKEDE
Let’s just get this writer’s personal bias out of the way — I believe the collective Local Visions is making some of the best music in Japan today, finding a sweet spot between bubble-era nostalgia and contemporary takes on electronic styles, all wrapped up in a nice visual aesthetic. Their latest release comes from singer-songwriter Omoya, who creates a loose-limbed set of funk songs eyeing your next party playlist. With Local Visions, it’s always tempting (uhhh, for me at least) to fling yourself over the proverbial cliff towards the canyon of overthinking it below. DAKEDE keeps everything simple, and results in some hooks and melodies that just bearhug your brain, whether delivered via the synthesizer strut of “Icon” or slowing things down for a talk-box-assisted slow jam like “SO.” One consistent? Another winner from the country’s most intriguing output for online-centric music. Get it here, or listen above.
Nao Yoshioka — Undeniable
Tokyo soul artist Nao Yoshioka has been putting her spin on the genre for the better part of the 2010s, and her newest album Undeniable finds her delivering another rousing set of numbers exploring the genre’s past and present. Her latest opens with its strongest moment, the spacious “Got Me,” which gives Yoshioka plenty of room to show off her vocal prowess while also matching her singing up with a wispy electronic backdrop that ups the emotional drama. From there, she goes for string-accented empowerment on “Liberation,” rousing clap-alongs on “All in Me,” and teetering funk on “Invest in Me.” Along the way she brings in a lot of guests, but Undeniable works because all of Yoshioka’s best elements come through clearly. Listen above.
M-Project — HDM Mixtape 2019
Bring a bottle of water along for this one. Hardcore staple M-Project’s HDM Mixtape 2019 blasts into a hyperspeed tempo about a minute in and refuses to slow down after that, offering an aerobic 35-minute-plus set that only slows down a few times for dramatic effect. This mix features both M-Project originals and various remixes, including some reworks of artists such as Porter Robinson, YUC’e, RIOT and much more. The fun of HDM Mixtape 2019, though, isn’t trying to figure out any specific reference points and just getting lost in the dash. Read our original post, or listen above.
Various Artists — ATOMIC BOMB COMPILATION Vol. 7
The ATOMIC BOMB COMPILATION has been Japan’s best annual set of politically charged electronic music since 2012. Producers from all over Japan — and in recent years, across the globe — offer up tracks commenting on the unease caused by nuclear energy. The seventh installment features songs that are at times fragmented, suffocating and outright overwhelming. Yet across this release, the artists involved conjure up an uneasy attitude reflecting life in the atomic age. Read our original post here, or get it here.
CraftCity — Planet EP
Producer CraftCity offers up one of the zippier dance releases of the summer with the Planet EP, a brief but busy set. A lot of the electronic elements popping up in their music will seem familiar — echoes of EDM and future bass ring through, along with a bit of a kawaii edge — but the best detail comes through the vocal samples. CraftCity splices them, speeds them up and plays around with them in a way bringing to mind DE DE MOUSE. It makes for a non-stop rush, and a heck of an adrenaline shot. Get it here, or listen above.