Best 11 Albums of Difficult Japanese 2011:
• Off-Beat Singing:
Salyu x Salyu – S(o)un(d)beams (Toy’s Factory)
If Kate Bush continued her vocal experiments from ‘Aerial’ album, one day she might form an extravagant vocal duo with Salyu.
ShinSight Trio “Moonlight Sunrise” (Teichiku)
Shin-Ski, a producer with a Composition graduate. Insight, a rapper with a Y Society diploma. And Ryow, a turntablist from Nagoia. Dream team!
• J-J Dilla:
Nujabes – Spiritual State (Hydeout)
Great Japanese producer’s first and allegedly last posthumous album. The quintessence of Nujabes’s elegant flair with piano scattered all around it.
• Multichannel Rock:
Tokyo Jihen – Daihakken (EMI Music Japan)
‘If the older Tokyo Jihen albums were different TV stations, this must be somebody zapping through them’.
• Scored drone:
Toshio Hosokawa – Landscapes (ECM New Series)
Shō with string background, and without.
Caroline – Verdugo Hills (Temporary Residence)
Born in Okinawa, educated in Boston and settled in California records a lovely dream-pop album without much Japanese influences though.
Himuro Yoshiteru – 7th Shapeshifting (Bedroom Research)
British have Rustie and his ‘Glass Swords’. Americans got Kuedo’s ‘Severant’. Japan’s irrepressible guide to post-dubstep is Himuro.
Vampillia – Alchemic Heart (Important)
Some call them ‘hardcore Arcade Fire’, which is wrong. They prefer to call themselves a ‘brutal orchestra’, which is wrong as well. Try it if you miss the Godspeed You! Black Emperor / A Silver Mt. Zion family.
• Farewell Ambient:
Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto – Summvs (Raster-Noton)
Noto succumbs to Sakamoto.
Coppu – Twilight (In Ditch)
Wonderfully reserved flow plus the atmosphere you could expect from an album titled ‘Twilight’ and promoted with a single ‘Slumber’.
• Lost Between Stations:
Toshimaru Nakamura – Maruto (Erstwhile)
Do you ever stop the tuner between stations?