HAMIDASYSTEM merges music and storytelling in “Yoru no Hakoniwa”

In a first half of 2018 that – except for a few records – has been pretty slow in terms of noticeable releases (even though everything points towards a much more interesting second half), atmospheric Idol unit HAMIDASYSTEM has been relentlessly grinding in the depths of the underground Idol scene, releasing new music at a constant pace and expanding their audience with more live shows, while also marketing themselves in a more aggressive way through various web platforms.

Since the release of their track “Semi no Koe” last year, I had a great feeling about HAMIDASYSTEM, and so far it’s safe to say that they have exceeded any expectation. With atmospheric tracks that make smart use of Electronic, Rock and Ambient elements at the service of ethereal singing and space-y soundscapes, their music is something to relax and reflect to more than anything, portraying a floating sense of sadness and oppression that sets their sound apart from most Idol units out there.

Their recently released track “Yoru no Hakoniwa” seeks the same kind of vibe, and successfully conquers it with a simple yet extremely effective execution that hides a remarkable songwriting and attention to details. A rather tricky beginning infused with bright synths sets a dreamy soundscape right away, just to wipe it away a few seconds later with melancholic guitar arpeggios and a hefty chord progression backed up by an oppressive layer of synths, an impactful combination of sounds that reverbs throughout the whole track to fit the girls’ ethereal and sinister vocals, that beautifully fit the whole atmosphere; I can’t stress enough how much the interpretation of the members in this track contributes to its whole atmosphere, as each girl balances each other shifting between heartfelt vocal extensions and delicate singing, delivering a various array of emotions while keeping the track engaging and various to compensate the redundant instrumental. It’s a greatly crafted song, that’s accessible and apparently simple on the surface, but that hides many details and showcases a great songwriting ability and on-point delivery by the members.

It’s also worth noticing how “Yoru no Hakoniwa” is the first of a total of five tracks that are going to be released on the 30th day of each of the next four months, as part of a project that merges music and storytelling: for each track released, a part of the story is released on their website, and “Yoru no Hanokiwa” is just the beginning of it. Also, the release of each track coincides with a live performance by the unit at particular venues, ultimately leading to their first one-man live in September (the unit also set up a crowdfunding page, and they’re very close to reach their goal for this project).

It’s a very interesting project for the unit, that merges music, storytelling and live performances, also unveiling the desire of these girls and their production team to create their own space and rise in a niche that’s surely crowded, but still has a lot of space for acts who want to bring the Idol scene and culture further from an artistic standpoint. So far, HAMIDASYSTEM has definitely gave proof to have everything it takes to leave an influential mark in the scene. Listen below.

– Alex

Suiyoubi no Campanella kicks off 2018 with new single “Edokko Doko Doko”

Happy new year my friends! Hope you had a great holiday season, filled with all the beautiful music that’s been released in Japan in the course of the last year.

In the last few days I’ve been thinking about how to kick off 2018 here at Land of Rising Sound, and while I definitely have a few topics I want to talk about as soon as possible, today I’ve finally stumbled upon the perfect chance to write my first post of the year: a new Suiyoubi no Campanella track!

With the release of one of the best albums of the year – and all the great singles that followed it – it’s no secret that 2017 has been the best year to date for Suiyoubi no Campanella. The trio has no intention of slowing it down though, and just yesterday, they released yet another digital single (the fifth after the release of “SUPERMAN”) titled “Edokko Doko Doko“, that also served as opening theme for a NHK educational show aired back in November.

The song features elements that reminisce of Campanella’s both recent and past productions, with layers of acoustic guitar reminding of last year’s “Melos”, but also a chorus boasting Edo-inspired soundscapes that brings the mind back to Zipang’s beautiful “Ono Imoko” (though in a slower and more relaxing key). KOM_I‘s interpretation and vocal versatility is once again the highlight of the track, seamlessly spacing from soothing vocals enriching the verses to a brief Rap break halfway through the track that shake things up a little without sounding out of place; the singer’s ability and confidence in bending her vocal skills to different approaches is always a pleasure to the ears, and it successfully enriches the number while keeping it cohesive. Spoken parts and male vocals that occasionally couple with KOM_I’s voice are also featured here, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it hardly ruins the atmosphere the track pulls off so well.

Edokko Doko Doko” may not be the most exciting post-SUPERMAN single, but it’s yet another proof of how Suiyoubi no Campanella can capture a precise sound and use it as a base to expose its trademark songwriting as well as KOM_I’s charisma and impeccable vocal skills.

You can buy “Edokko Doko Doko” and listen to a preview of it here, or watch the opening of the NHK show featuring a shorter version of the song here.

– Alex

DaiDaiDai delivers an hypnotic performance in “Bokura dake boku darake”

DaiDaiDai is one of those names that I see floating around the depths of Alt Idol communities pretty frequently, yet I actually never got the chance to listen to their music until today. Going in blind, without a clue of what to expect at all, I was genuinely floored when I finally decided to give these five girls a chance today with their new song “Bokura dake boku darake“.

The track is a frantic and space-y electronic journey, that delivers an atmospheric performance thanks to filtered vocals served on the base of fast percussions with roots in Drum ‘n’ bass, smartly sped up and brought into Noise borders to create a pleasant contrast with layers of airy – almost soothing – synthesizers; the number is short and structurally linear, a fitting pattern for a formula that heavily relies on atmosphere and unpredictable rhythmic outbursts, successfully delivering a particular yet engaging experience.

This is one of the most noticeable new tracks this week, and I highly recommend it. Listen to DaiDaiDai‘s new track  “Bokura dake boku darake” and watch the MV down below!

– Alex

Yurumerumo (You’ll melt more!) slows down a little bit, but keeps it solid with『うんめー』

Yurumerumo (You’ll melt more!) is one of the most intriguing Idol acts out there, and also the one producers and musicians apparently have the most fun with, considering the number of high-profile artists taking care of their music (and those who feature them in their own works). As natural consequence, the unit’s sound spaces throughout several musical influences, with a recent New Wave turn that particularly fit the sound of the four girls.

With “Unme” – a new track released just today – Yurumerumo slows down a little bit and pursues a slower and more standard course, but keeps it interesting by maintaining the elements typical of the unit’s songwriting, such as energetic drum patterns hidden in several sections, and a bridge enriched by an electric guitar solo coupled by the unit’s typical back choirs. It’s a simple track, but at the same time it does everything possible to be engaging, showcasing a meticulous attention for details typical of Yurumerumo’s works.

Whatever this unit does, it’s always filled with care and smart songwriting, even when it’s something less eclectic like this track. Which is probably the main reason why everything Yurumerumo does is just worth listening. Be sure to listen to the track and watch the video down below!

– Alex

Cornelius plays with contrasting vibes in the greatly crafted “Sometime / Someplace”

After the very good reception of “If you’re here”, Shibuya Kei pioneer Cornelius is back with “Sometime / Someplace”, a newly released number featured in the producer’s upcoming record “MELLOW WAVES” ( June 28).

The track doesn’t stray too far from the mood of “If you’re here”, with a vocal interpretation and soothing electronic bass lines that emanate clear melancholic vibes; at the same time, “Sometime / Someplace” features several uplifting elements that mostly lie in layers of frantic acoustic riffs and playful drum patterns, creating an effective contrast that keeps the listener engaged. A totally unexpected electric guitar solo brings slightly noisy elements to the table, a very nice touch that works perfectly in the context of the track.

Be sure to listen to the track down below, and watch the wonderful video as well. It’s really, really cool.

– Alex

Have a nice Day! and Seiko Oomori team up in “Fantastic Drag”

When the collaborative track between Electronic outfit Have a Nice Day! and singer/songwriter Seiko Oomori was announced, I was honestly excited: they’re two of the artists I enjoy and follow the most right now, and their striking charisma and way of composing music makes them some of the freshest artists in the scene. The track was actually released on late April, but its music video has been released just yesterday on Japan-focused YouTube channel Lute, so I thought it was the right time to express my feelings about it.

Fantastic Drag is an Electronic number where Have a Nice Day’s typical synth melodies are looped to infinity as usual, featuring actual verses instead of the same phrase repeated over and over again; it all sounds nice and not different from what the group usually delivers in their energetic live shows in underground venues in Shinjuku, and that’s really all I expected and wanted to hear from them. Seiko Oomori takes care of the second verse, and she delivers as usual, thanks to her extremely dynamic voice and versatile interpretation: she’s one of the few artists that just can fit in every context, no matter if it’s an Idol pop anthem or a raw Punk number. She just sings her heart out, and it works great among the Electronic intricacy of Have a Nice Day’s synthesizer layers.

Yet, I can’t help but feel… underwhelmed. The song is undoubtedly good, both artists just do what they usually do in this track, but at the same time it doesn’t dare to go beyond that, and ultimately there’s really nothing that truly makes it stand out. It’s the sum of two talented artists, and the result is obviously good, but the feeling that this collaboration could have been much more exciting still lingers around my head. Maybe it’s because of its linearity, or the fact that I find the track unnecessary long, and while I don’t mind it at all, I still think this could have been a much more intriguing showcase of two artists with unique charisma.

Listen to Fantastic Drag down here, and enjoy the MV (which is very nice).

– Alex

Acidclank’s new track “Rocks” is just as good as you would expect

I can say without a shade of doubt that Acidclank is currently one of my favorite Indie artists from Japan; the outfit’s 2015 debut record “Inner” was a pleasant and various record mostly based on Brit Rock influences, while last year’s “Night In” EP shown a side of the project that leaned towards slower and nostalgic vibes, an approach that greatly fits the band’s sound (it was one of my favorite releases of 2016).

Acidclank is finally back on the scene with Rocks, title track taken from the outfit’s first single set to be released on June 14. This indie Rock number finds the outfit mostly merging influences from both “Inner” and “Night In” in a seamless way, with raw-sounding riffs and up-tempo drum patterns backed up by melancholic melodies, with a redundant guitar solo placed right before the end of the track that noticeably boosts the nostalgic mood of the track; it’s a straight to the point song, but it’s also very well detailed and crafted, showcasing a sound that now more than ever represents this band’s identity.

As a fan of the group, I’m very excited to see what they have in store for this new single, sure that more valid tuned are on the way. Listen below.

– Alex

CLOCK & BOTAN’s “Gloomy” is a solid and beautiful debut for Ayano Yanagisawa

After the disbandment of crow-themed Idol unit BELLRING GIRLS HEART last year (reformed recently under the name THERE THERE THERES), almost each member of the original group took its own road to start new projects. Member Ayano Yanagisawa is the only one who decided to go solo, and with her first single Gloomy released just yesterday, the Music Video for the title track is now available as well. And I absolutely love it.

The track is a simple and straight to the point Pop number, but acoustic riffs and retro-sounding layers of synthesizer give it a melancholic and beautiful vibe that just works wonders with Ayano’s vocal lines. Gloomy is a very heartfelt track, and the way so many emotions are conveyed in such a simple and friendly structure is a sign of remarkable skills in the songwriting department.

I love everything about this. Be sure to listen to the track and watch the video below!

Satomimagae’s new record “Kemri” is a dark and heartfelt journey worth looking forward to

Today’s discovery is Satomimagae, a singer/songwriter who debuted in 2012 under Tokyo’s White Paddy Mountain label. Kemri is the third album of the singer’s discography, and is set to be released on June 6, but you can already listen to three of the eleven tracks on Bandcamp right now (check below). After listening to these songs, I was honestly pretty impressed with this girl’s music.

Ethereal vocals and clear acoustic guitar notes are the base for Satomimagae’s compositions, that occasionally get enriched by atmospheric elements that take the form of brief but massive waves of Electronic effects, who take the spotlight right away in the opener Bulse. The soundscapes Satomimagae successfully summons are the result of a cold yet heartfelt vibe, a contrast of emotions particularly noticeable in Leak, that often uses the help of distant electric guitar notes that slightly remind of Shoegaze vibes. There’s also space for more soothing and less haunting vibes, as shown in Mebuki“, where the singer’s delicate voice flies above a layer of ethereal back-vocals, conveying a strong sense of melancholy.

From this brief but substantial preview, “Kemri” sounds like a record that sets a clear mood and plays with it by briefly welcoming different vibes and moods, making each track a story of its own. Satomimagae‘s formula is strong as the emotions she conveys in these numbers, which is why Kemri is now one of the albums I’m looking forward to the most right now. Be sure to listen below.

NoGht’s “Nostalgic Radiance” is a perfect track to kick off the week

Let’s kick off the week with something engaging and soothing, shall we? Something that delicately wakes your brain up on a Monday morning in just the right way. I would never try to wake you up with EDM or Black Metal, so you can trust me.

Osaka-based producer NoGht just released its new track “Nostalgic Radiance“, a five-minutes Electronic number that showcases remarkable skills in several departments; the track revolves around a simple yet effective riff, that takes the listener throughout mutating soundscapes made of dreamy details that constantly emerge and progress, briefly cut only by a small breakdown that leads to a final section marked by stronger melodies and drum patterns. Progression and structure are definitely the highlights here, and despite its length, this track does an amazing job at keeping the vibe up.

Nostalgic Radiance” is a well-crafted track from NoGht, that showcases a remarkable use of melodies and details to create precise soundscapes. Nice one to kick off the week. Listen below!