Wednesday, 29 July 2015

UJICO* – SUMMERTIME MEMORIES

It's house music. But it's house music with a difference. It's electro-house music. And not just any old electro-house music, but... well, not every bite of electro-house I take tastes as delicious as the atmosphere given off in the Casino Night Zone from Sonic II; no, it's not every day that the electronic claque of French-touch feeling house gets mixed with chiptune-flavoured VGM-inspired music, as has happened here, but it's always a better day when something like this is discovered.

Something like what? Something like 'Summertime Memories' by musicmaker Ujico* (with asterisk, that's no typo). IRL name, Keitaro Ujiie, he's an 18-year-old producer from Tokyo who also makes music under the name Snail's House, under which moniker he has previously released an EP called Kirara for Japan-based label Trekkie Trax (associated with other dance-based artists like Carpainter, who's also counted as a founder of the label). 'Summertime Memories' is a two-week old track that first, if you have any penchant for anime aesthetics, lures you in with its artwork, and then sucker punches you right in the groove bone with an explosive dab of HOUSE. And it's a free download: double win.

It'd be unfair to call this entirely house, though. Even though the kicks thud and the hi-hats skitter intricately along with the best of 'em, even though its snares boom with simmering pugilism, it seems (after first listen at least) to have more in common with future funk than straight house. Why? Because of the pulsing feel of is continual beat, the ebb-and-flow of sidechained sounds that punctuate future funk jams the world over. Admittedly, however, this style does feel as though it derives from French-touch house anyway, so what am I saying?

Added to this booming feel-good rhythm are stuttering synth chords, bold melody lines bleeping with chiptune aesthetics, saw-wave synth bass, the constant plink of a rhythmic boop, chopped and garbled vocal samples, all of it never jostling for space but running concurrent to each other with fugue-like complexity. It's urgent and dirty, summing up the humidity and bustling joy of summertime in just under four minutes of irrepressible groove, and therefore deserving of the description given by its maker on SoundCloud: 夏に向けたエレクトロなチューンです! ("This is the electro tune of the summer!")



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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

NO ROME – I SPEND ENDLESS DAYS THINKING OF DIFFERENT WAYS

Last time Philippines-based artist No Rome featured on YES/NO was quite a while ago – it was his emotive song 'Heaven', written about the tragic and untimely passing away of a friend, that not only caught the attention of the brain connected to the ears that live on the same body as the fingers typing these words, but that also provided an earworming melody that is still hummed and sung infrequently to this day. If that's what counts as a successful song, then 'Heaven' was a huge success indeed.

This time around he has surprise-dropped a track with a nice long title that also rhymes: 'i spend endless days thinking of different ways'. Sampling Trey Songz and referencing Slowdive in the lyrics, No Rome once again displays his knack for creating a thick blanket of sounds, luscious and floating, textured and bristling with gently merging melodic mists; ostensibly this begins as an ultra-chilled version of an R&B slow jam, chiming clouds of sound and his indomitable talent for pop vocal patterns helping the surge of flavours all the more tasty.

Hints of percussion and fragmented beats appear but it's not until halfway that snappy, understated beat appears alongside interwoven pitch-shifted vocal sample clusters — then inexplicably and without warning, the song shifts up a gear and becomes a rollicking cycle of much faster breakbeats, all of it smashed out and abrasive with sparkles of hardcore winking in the crunchy overdriven drums; samples continue to chipmunk-chatter, synths continue to wash and glisten, all until the track fades abruptly into a harsh velcro of actual wall of scathing white noise for the finale.

A massive surprise and a welcome switch between genres that not only keeps the listener on their toes, but shows huge potential for an artist who has already shown himself to be (seemingly) effortlessly multi-styled – and all without it jarring. It blends – and that's what we like.




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Thursday, 2 July 2015

SAMUEL – THESE DAYS

Ever since I first heard Samuel's debut EP, Falling Star I was hooked. Here was a very fresh, very haunting new voice seeping into the music world. The EP was produced by Okzharp (of London-based outfit LV) and paired Samuel's aching vocals with a futuristic post-R&B sort of sound to a stunning degree of hypnotic clarity – though his voice, both then and now, feels as if it transcends any association with "dat future bass". Just like Samuel as a person, his voice is unique.

So thankfully this rare voice, this anti-commonplace set of vocal chords and their unconventional owner, is back for your ears to enjoy, beaming themselves into a new morsel of music called 'These Days'. Produced by London producer Kwes, it's a different sound to the type that graced the Falling Star EP – the cold, glacial, future-forward sounds are gone. However, the minimalism, which basically translates to the producer's careful consideration with Samuel's voice, is still there.

The production is bright, summerful and sunny, soft and soothing synth chords cushioning the vocals, with pockmarking plunks of bass left to peddle their simple subtleties below the meandering croons of Samuel rather than rumbling in-your-face. Clusters of homemade-sounding DIY-esque percussion clink and clankle in the chorus alongside shakers and the lonely thud of a kick as Samuel sings the cryptic hook, "These days are brighter than the sun, so tell me what you want / tell me what you want" – a sentiment reflected in the dripping innocence of this heat-warped music.

What else is good about this? The soaring vibe, the delicious synth sounds, the whole atmospheric, far-off feeling, the spirit of new romance, the deepness of the vocals coated in rich textures snaking through this cloud of production like a lone bird hovering silhouetted against vast blue, or even a the fleeting glint of a passenger plane caught by shards of sunlight amidst nonchalant clouds as it flies lonely and steady out of sight.




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