Easy by KOMONO LAKE feat. gb

Released: 22.07.27 / Label: KOMONO LAKE

KOMONO LAKE is an entirely modern three piece group from the Tokyo area. Consisting of a vocalist, a bassist, and a track maker/DJ. Their sound is heavily electric. The production is top notch, but what really makes them stand out are the strong vocals and creative bass lines that accent their music. Today’s track is a bit on the lighter side, and sounds fit for inclusion on a Katamari Damacy soundtrack. The production is fantastic, somehow finding a catchy combination of adorable and cool. The groove is a slower Latin-feel that really gives the singer and bassist room to shine. The bassist has some tasty licks throughout the tune, but the vocals are the standout here. The clear tone and straight pop style of singer Kanbin gives the song direction and really cements the groove. Sadly the rap section from guest gb seems out of place here. It may be a mix issue, but I’m thinking it’s more a groove issue. He’s gone with a smoother approach that just doesn’t mesh with the track. The rap is quality though. I’d like to hear them do a collab again in the future on a different track.

Verdict: Worth your time.

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Naive Triangle by Pvrvllel

Released: 22.07.20 / Label: Pvrvllel

Pvrvllel is the name of music producer duo Masa Tamaki and Kazuki Sugiyama. The v’s in the name make me think their music may be more on the artsy side, but we’ll see. Today’s track “Naive Triangle” dropped as a single on Bandcamp on July 15th, and was released to stream on the 20th. I’m always happy to see more Japanese groups using bandcamp, it’s not as popular here as it should be.

While a little dated, this track gets a lot right with the EDM mood its going for. The sounds are all beautifully crafted, especially the bass and drums, giving the groove a strong foundation. It definitely makes you want to move and would be a great dance track in any lounge or house set. The vocals are chopped up samples of a female singer from somewhere. Definitely cliche at this point, but if it works it works. Here it’s great for about 75% of the song, but it gets just a bit annoying at the end. Fans of this kind of music might not find a new hit, but it definitely works as playlist filler. Naive Triangle is dance track that gets the job done. While the style is dated, they get everything right here. Worth a listen for EDM fans.

Verdict: Worth your time.

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When You Fake Sleep by Fake Creators

Released: 22.07.06 / Label: I want the moon, not records

Talk about an awesome album cover. I have no idea what I’m looking at, but its both beautiful and unnerving. This is a new group, but it’s actually a new project by two names that may be familiar to you. Let me explain…

Fake Creators is a new collaborative project between artists LITE and DE DE MOUSE. LITE is a well known four-piece Japanese instrumental rock band. They’ve been together for almost 20 years, and have made a name for themselves as killer musicians and pioneers of the complex math-rock genre. They’ve teamed up with DE DE MOUSE, a keyboard playing DJ who has made an art of combining world and club music. He’s brought his unique live performances on tour all over the world, and done collaborations with artists from many different fields.

I was already a big fan of each group individually, so the two groups having come together to form an entirely new project is super exciting. I can’t wait to see what they’ve made together, so let’s take a listen and find out!

When You Fake Sleep is equal parts calm and frenetic, with literally no transition between the two moods. It definitely peaked my interest from the get go. The soft guitar chords and clock-like rhythm lulled me into a sense of peace, only to have the song take off with an insane amount of chaotic energy. The B sections are all fast rhythmic phrases and bass lines that sound almost organic. Everything is linked together with a strange, spliced vocal line that seems like it has something to say, but never quite gets there.

I love the sound design they’ve used here. They’ve managed to get a really beautiful blend of both rock band and electronic production. Organic sounds and contrasting sections aren’t a new idea, though. This track reminds me a lot of what Bjork was doing 10 years ago with Biophilia. It is nice to hear a version of those ideas in Japan in 2022.

I enjoyed the song overall, but there are definitely areas that feel lacking given the experience these artists have. The two chord approach to the songwriting is disappointing. I think with a more complex harmonic base the song would have felt more developed. As it is, I don’t think there’s enough being said here to justify the second half of the song. After the first big explosive break they repeat back into the soft section and basically play the whole song again, but without adding anything or developing any of the ideas. So the track ends up feeling stretched to fill out a full length song. That being said, I definitely like the direction they’re heading and I hope to hear more in the future.

Verdict: Worth your time

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A.O.U by illiomote

Released: 22.07.06 / Label: SPILD

What an interesting choice for an album cover. I wonder if they make a physical copy of the album will the disc will have the same print as above? Or maybe they’ll release without a cover? Intriguing. A.O.U is the lead single for illiomote‘s new album, side_effects+, dropping on July 27th. (That’s right, I’m way ahead of the release this time!) But I don’t know anything about this band yet, so let’s do some digging!

This relatively new duo is based in Tokyo and have been making music since 2019. Members YOCO and MAIYA have been friends since kindergarten. After getting their start on YouTube, the two have released one full album along with several EPs and singles. So they’ve been busy the last three years, and they’re showing no sign of slowing down. They mention in their bio that their music ranges from rock to pop, so let’s see what kind of song they’ve decided to create for us today.

An interesting club sound to this track. It’s a very minimal electronic arrangement with some really beautiful vocals on top. I’m loving the voice, and the harmony work is really well done as well. The chorus synth work is also really light and easy to listen to. The track overall has a lightness to it that’s rare for this style in Japan. I’m used to a really busy arrangement, so the relaxed mood here is refreshing. It does start to feel a bit like sample loop city at the halfway point. It’s clear that they’ve got an idea of where they want to go, but maybe they aren’t quite sure how to get there yet.

A.O.U also suffers from a lack of dynamic contrast in the parts, which is typical of this kind of loop based electronic arrangement. Sadly it means the song feels a bit flat overall and lacks any real climax. The mix doesn’t help here either. While the instruments are placed well and the atmosphere the track creates is admirable, it’s a very stagnant sound. I think with a bit more panning or playing with stereo space the track would come to life. Definitely room for improvement, but that will all come with experience and time. They’ve got the groove and melody down, so I’m excited to hear how the album sounds when it releases later this month.

Verdict: Take it or leave it

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HERO JOURNEY (feat. Superorganism) by CHAI

Released: 22.07.06 / Label: Sub Pop

Well this is a unique collaboration I didn’t know I wanted but I’m certainly glad to have. This is the edge of Indie territory, but seeing as this is a Sub Pop release focused around a Japanese artist (and I want to listen to it) we’re going to give it a pass.

CHAI is a unique J-Indie group that have made a name for themselves both inside and outside of Japan from early in their career. The four member group formed in 2012 in Nagoya. After some local success they moved to Tokyo in 2016 to pursue music full time. The all-female group met in high school and have been making music together since. The music they make is hard to put in a genre, I’ve seen “whimsical” or “experimental pop” thrown around a lot and I like those. They’ve done a lot of touring worldwide, some great collaborations, and have a really good Tiny Desk concert. If you haven’t seen that it’s definitely worth watching. It seems they’ve signed with Sony as of January this year (2022), so this review will likely be the first and last time you see them on this blog. Time will tell.

Superorganism is its own beast of a band, and I won’t be going into detail on them but they’re definitely worth checking out. See their website above for more info. Now, let’s check out what these groups have created together.

Well, that was a lot to unpack. For being such a short song they really crammed a lot in. So the basis of HERO JOURNEY is that CHAI is a group of heroes that are going to save the world, hence the child’s drawing of the group as superheroes for the album art. CHAI opens the track with a little mixed language rap that’s very hard to understand. For touring the world it’s surprising that they still haven’t learned English. But language issues aside, the music is kicking and the chorus really pops with a super happy groove and fun mix of CHAI and Superorganism synth work. The second and third verses are handled by Superorganism, which means CHAI is really only singing the chorus sections. This balance works really well for the song, but as a CHAI release it’s a strange choice. The song does get a nice dynamic shift in the middle when superorganism takes over, and the lyrics finally make sense.

I’m surprised to hear CHAI sound so much like PERFUME in this song. The flat melody line they sing shifts their sound completely and the music ends up having more of an impact than the vocals. It ends up sounding more like a Superorganism song than a CHAI song. And while the lyrics are about CHAI saving the world, that doesn’t change the arrangement of the track. It does make me wonder what section of music was composed by each band. It’s always interesting when groups doing electronic music work together, because it’s very hard to tell where that line is.

Verdict: Worth your time (3.6/5)

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mayonnaise by ego apartment

Released: 22.06.01 / Label: NihyakuWIND

I think “mayonnaise” is the best song title I’ve heard in a long time. I’m already invested and need to know what this is about. I wish this song had it’s own unique artwork but sadly this is just a single from a full album, so we have to look at plums.

It’s time to give ego apartment another chance at a review. I reviewed their song FOG almost a month ago when the blog was just starting out, and a lot has changed since then. For my part, the review style has shifted a bit to be more broad and music focused. For their part, they got a shiny new website up and running and their album has finally dropped! The self-titled but all-caps album “EGO APARTMENT” has found moderate success, with a couple tracks really taking off. I’m definitely interested to hear some of their more popular music, so let’s dive in and see what kind of song they could have possibly written about mayonnaise.

That was so creative and fun! What an absolute joy of a jam they set up here. Really creative grooves, fun lyrics, great pacing, interesting melodic ideas and rhythms in the vocals. This is way better than the last track I heard of theirs. I can definitely hear the time and care that went into this track, which was my big issue with FOG. Where that song sounded rushed and rough around the edges, its clear that each section and instrument here was carefully crafted and perfected here.

I still have an issue with the bad English, but they really cleaned it up a lot this time around so it’s much easier to listen to. That the second vocalist has perfect pronunciation though, and the gap between the two is still jarring to hear. Hopefully that’s something they work out by their next album.

Speaking of sounds, they use a ton of them here. There are guitars, funk basses, sub basses, keyboards, percussion of all kinds, multiple vocal layers. It’s a huge project and it all works together seamlessly. I would really love to know more about their production process, who had what ideas, how they recorded them, all of it. Also a vibraslap. Respect for any band that knows where to place a vibraslap. But all around a stellar job on the mixing this time.

Verdict: Must Listen

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