Mikazuki BIG WAVE – Watashi no YUME DIARY | EP REVIEW for ARAMA! JAPAN

Release Date: June 3, 2017
Format:
 Digital, CD (only a few copies)
Label: Self-released


Future Funk and Japanese 80’s Disco flawlessly merge together in Mikazuki BIGWAVE’s new record

Riding the wave of the 80’s revival/vaporwave phenomenon, Future Funk is probably the genre that melds past and future sounds in the most enjoyable and effective way. Whereas most projects out there sound as simple revivals or throwbacks to the good old 80’s vibes (not that it’s a bad thing), this particular sub-genre shows a strong will to effectively adapt modern influences into this sound, usually resulting into intriguing and enjoyable compositions.

Yokohama-based producer/singer Mikazuki BIGWAVE – also member of the Pink Neon Tokyocollective – is one of the most representative artists of this fairly recent genre, and with “Watashi no YUME DIARY” she’s bringing her most solid and convincing work to date. Setting aside the fact that with thirteen tracks this is actually more of an album than a EP, this record is pretty much the answer to anyone who’s wondering what Future Funk actually is: a fusion of 80’s Japanese Disco with Funk-imbued instrumentals, put in the frame of a modern execution overflowing with digital alterations.

Mikazuki BIGWAVE does a very well done job in exposing this approach, and the result is a pleasantly catchy and well-crafted record. As expectable, the whole work is filled with shiny Synthesizer melodies, slapping bass lines and funky guitar riffs, backed up by samples and vocals that fit the mood of each track with smart digital manipulations. The record is not afraid to chop-up parts and toning down the mood at its own will to expose the juiciest sections, adopting modern influences like the Techno-pop beats of “Sweet Days“, probably the track that dares the most in the whole record, yet without compromising the core formula of it. While the neat fusion of old and modern is certainly the star of the show here, shiny melodies and catchy passages are what makes this record so enjoyable, with tracks like “You’re the only one“, “Midnight Highway” and “BLIZZARD” as prime examples, featuring striking soundscapes that make these numbers instant earworms.

Watashi no YUME DIARY” is a fun and greatly crafted record, filled with details that create catchy compositions often featuring some impressive soundscapes. In the midst of the whole 80’s revival wave, Mikazuki BIGWAVE‘s record stands out for its flawless balance between old and modern, as well as for its excellent songwriting. A very enjoyable record not to miss.


Originally posted on ARAMA! JAPAN. Be sure to listen to the record down here:

Maison Book Girl – summer continue | EP Review

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Release Date: March 30th
Format: CD
Number of Editions (1): Regular Edition (CD only)


Maison Book Girl plays it safe (and well) in new EP “summer continue”

Maison Book Girl is among the most interesting projects born from the fragmented heritage of BiS, thanks to a fresh sound and sober identity that made their debut album bath room one of the most surprising releases of last year.

The group’s solid and reflective sonorities have carried over in the new EP summer continue, and it’s fair to admit that the four tracks present in this release could be easily taken as leftovers from the bath room sessions. Still, despite playing it safe, this new release is a short and pleasant experience that everyone that enjoyed the previous record will find equally valuable.

Layers of acoustic riffs and solid percussions open the way to lost AGE, a soothing yet sonically intriguing number, with melancholic vibes forming around vocals as highlight, giving a reflective yet instantly enjoyable vibe to the track. The following blue light adopts a thoughtful approach with the help of electronic elements, with well structured and balanced vocal sections, slightly taken down by a chorus that doesn’t fully bring a consistent contribute to the track, that comes out as weakest number on this EP despite holding valuable moments. On the other hand, bed is easily the most accomplished work here, featuring delicate and dramatic layers of electric guitars framed by bits of joyful synths, creating a nice contrast carried over throughout the track by an engaging structure: Definitely one of the best representation of the group’s sound in this release. The last track, empty, is a poem that follows the tradition of the previous record, and one of the distinctive traits of Maison Book Girl.

Despite being relatively short, summer continue is a pleasant EP that doesn’t take distance from bath room in any way: It doesn’t add anything new, but at the same time it’s the reason why it’s so enjoyable, and those who appreciated the previous record will undoubtedly like this one as well. Still, it’s fair to recognize that this EP also exposes the need for Maison Book Girl to enrich their sound in future releases, without falling into the path of repetitiveness. Knowing the talent and personality behind this project, I’m confident they will keep up with the remarkable quality they delivered so far.

Vote: 7.5 / 10


Tracklist:

01. lost AGE
02. blue light
03. bed
04. empty

– Alex

 

September Me – Godspeed You! | EP REVIEW

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Release Date: November 18th
Format: CD
Number of Editions (1): Regular Edition (CD only)


September Me show great talent to then fall into mediocrity in this controversial release

Discovering and analyzing Indie bands is always interesting. Seeing young artists trying to express their talent is genuinely good, and I generally divide these realities in two groups: Those who create something new and innovative, and those who follow the wave of successful artists with their own interpretation. Tokyo-based J-rock trio September Me finds its place in the latter category, following the new wave of Japanese rock started with Sakanaction and greatly maintained by groups such as indigo la End and Gesu no Kiwami Otome, musicians that successfully brought complex layers of sounds in accessible compositions at the service of pop rock.

The guys from September Me try to showcase their talent through this valid pattern with a five-tracks mini album titled Godspeed you!, but end up doing a good job only for half of it. The first two tracks representing the highlight of this release showcase a smart use of synths, vibrating melodies and fast-paced rhythms wrapped up in structures where everything genuinely sounds at the right place. I was honestly surprised with the work done here (especially with Yuurei Dive) and that’s why I’ve been so equally disappointed with the remaining tracks in this release. The three following compositions all fail in delivering something interesting with overly shallow and uninspired pop rock, and while Bokura no Innocence still manages to deliver intriguing melodies and interesting rhythms, it doesn’t even get close with the sound offered in the first part of this album; It almost feels like listening to a different band, and it’s honestly baffling.

It’s pretty clear that these guys have talent in composing and fitting every piece of their sound in the right place, skills clearly showcased in the first two tracks of this release. At the same time, the quick downfall to mediocrity with the following compositions is probably due to the trio’s will of showing different vibes and sounds, that dragged them in a path that, judging from everything done good in here, doesn’t even belong to them. It’s a real shame, and hopefully they will follow their artistic talent more constantly in their future releases without falling in overly abused formulas that don’t give justice to what they can truly do.

Vote: 6 / 10

– Alex