Shiina Ringo – J’ai trouvé l’amour / 熱愛発覚中


shiina ringo


Shiina Ringo (椎名 裕美子) is a hugely respected singer-songwriter in Japan and a leader of a rock band Tokyo Jihen. Her music is an eclectic mix, full of effortless flair and lyrical insight. She dabbled in anything from punk rock, alternative to hip hop, jazz and Japanese enka, all to a great critical acclaim. She is one of the most successful and respected Japanese female artists up to date.




For her best-of-collaboration album Ukina / 浮き名 (release – November 13), Shiina paired up with the most influential Japanese producer of electronic music – Yasutaka Nakata, known from the music of Capsule, Perfume, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or MEG. The child of their work is J’ai trouvé l’amour (lit. I found love) / 熱愛発覚中 (romanized ‘Netsuai Hakkakuchu’). It’s a demure and hypnotising piece of electropop. Mysterious, ominous verse and a sweet but mature chorus are intercepted by Nakata‘s distorted synths. The chemistry of Nakata‘s instrumental and Shiina‘s style and vocals is like apple and cinnamon – absolutely spot on. The effect is of avant-garde quality. Check it out below:



The video is up to par with the music. Elegant and stylish Shiina kicks ass, literally. In a Kill Bill kind of way. This video should be a lesson to many Western female singers on ‘How to be sexy without showing too much / looking like a whore’. In fact, it’s so well directed that I wish it was an actual movie. This, gentlemen, is how you make a music video.

What’s left is to hope that such synergetic collaboration between Shiina and Nakata will spark even more future works together. Stay tuned and if enjoy the works of Shiina, be sure to check out the new album Ukina.


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Lady Gaga – ARTPOP / Album Review




Let me skip the foreplay and get that lube on to the point:
ARTPOP is a decent effort, if not flawed, and not nearly as brilliant as The Fame, which bred so many number one singles and unforgettable Poker Face, Paparazzi or Bad Romance.

After the underwhelming electro-gothic album Born This Way, ARTPOP is much brighter and spotlight-ready, closer to The Fame, yet unfortunately it doesn’t replicate the same quality. In fact, at times it sounds over-produced, with its chopped up beats, processed vocals, multiple choruses and topped with broadway/glee kind of vocal and this strange, overly serious or dramatic but at the same time alienating tone of voice (see Dope). In the lyrics department Gaga made us get used to her whacky but meaningful text and more or less subtle social commentary, instead this time we have countless sex references and some vacuous statements. Essentially there are a couple of gems and… more fillers.


Here’s ARTPOP in a nutshell:




    Venus – cheesy and…fun! Gaga as goddess-of-love-inspired sex therapist shouting ‘Venus’ in a horny voice (the third time), priceless. Danceable, solid effort.

    G.U.Y – hypnotising chorus that may just drill its way into your head. No more, no less.

    Do What U Want (feat. R. Kelly) – catchy pop tune with a R’n’B like feel. It’s a good pop track but you can tell Gaga is playing safe with this one…

    Applause – Sparkling hooks, catchy, great energy – ticks all the boxes. First and best?




    Jewels n’ Drugs – I failed to find any sophisticated vocabulary to describe this song, in other words – it’s shit. I guarantee you’ll hate this pseudo-hip-hop when you hear it, no matter if you’re a die-hard fan or not.

    Everything else is either just O-K or simply forgettable electropopmashedpotatoes…
    Mary Jane Holland is just alright and Aura a.k.a Burqa treats a complex subject matter of women wearing veil but in a rather simplified way.
    Sexxx Dreams is so drowned in electronic SFX that it sounds like a vomiting robot, all this with lyrics about masturbation. Masturbation doesn’t have to be boring… but this song is.
    MANiCURE, another song about sex… Even Gaga sounds bored on the Artpop track. ‘My artpop could mean anything’ – hmm ok. Car insurance leaflet that’s been clogging your post box for a month has more profound meaning than the song Swine. Enjoy this extract:

    ‘I know, I know, I know, I know you want me
    You’re just a pig inside a human body
    Squealer, squealer, squeal out, you’re so disgusting!
    You’re just a pig inside… swine.

    Pretty sad.

    Gypsy is a song that’s everything. It’s a ballad, it’s broadway Edge-of-Glory kinda thing, it’s trying to be catchy, it’s electronic… At the end it throws is some ‘we are all one’ stamp by mentioning a handful of countries, wishing it was Waka Waka.


All in all, ARTPOP is a decent pop album thanks to the better tracks, however those are outnumbered by the boring, soul-less fillers about sex and electro, making it an underwhelming record for the artist like Lady Gaga.
The title ARTPOP promises something grand but ultimately doesn’t live up to its name.
Just like the cover image with Gaga posing awkwardly in a slanted wig has little to do with art, but definitely pop. She got half of the title right! xD…

Verdict = Form over substance.


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Pet Shop Boys – Electric / album review




So I was waiting for the train in London Underground and I noticed the poster for Pet Shop Boys Electric. I made a mental note to check it out when I get home and… thank god for that poster! Electric is a great album. In fact it’s everything I hoped the new Capsule album to be.

Electric brings me back to the times of Love etc. except it’s a bit more melancholic in some places yet fresh and deliciously charged with energy.

Axis sets the mood right and… it sounds like it should be a Capsule track! Except better… Take that, CAPS LOCK. Perfect for a club environment. The boys are back. Sample below:



Fluorescent is a dense, synthesised club banger. The kind of song you’ll see London twinks making out to in the corners of a club.

Thursday is the new Friday. Literally. Featuring Example, it’s a very mainstream friendly, 80s flavoured pop track.

Between the dance floor electro and pop accents there are tracks filled with dreamy, trance-like atmosphere, but the sound remains consistent and altogether polished.

The Last to Die reminds me of Capsule once again with it’s distorted synth and guitar albeit obviously much more vocal-focused.

Love is a Bourgeois Construct is a classic Pet Shop Boys treatment. Flamboyant, bright… laser bright. Imagine lasers in Palace of Versailles! Yep.

Electric is both dance-y and reflective and that on its own is an achievement that many electro artists only wish they could grasp. The album is brief, coherent and doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s really amazing that after over 30 years, Pet Shop Boys remain so current and contemporary. If you like ‘proper’, full bodied electro, chances are this album will be an aural feast for you, if not, at least a pleasant ride. English synth pride!

PS. If you were disappointed by either new Daft Punk or new Capsule, Electric might just be the album for you.


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Perfume – Sweet Refrain




LEVEL 3 album has been released only in October and Perfume is already back with a new single due for November release.

Sweet Refrain was apparently meant to be included in LEVEL 3 however for some reason it is now a standalone single.

Listen to Sweet Refrain.

LEVEL 3 is a great, well balanced album with a fresh sound but Sweet Refrain is simply underwhelming. Verses sound sweet and nostalgic, strangely work well with the dubstep elements, however the titled chorus is a sickly sweet, generic J-pop SPAM. Altogether the song doesn’t leave a strong impression and the high pitched vocals are simply borderline-irritating. It really is a mess. Is this the direction Perfume is going? From progressive electro to generic J-pop? Back to square one. Is Nakata trying to please the mainstream Japanese audience? The problem is, at one extreme Perfume is pushing the boundaries with ambitious electro, at the other extreme, they are simply a girly idol-like sellout, trying to please everybody and nobody (未来のミュージアム / Mirai no Museum anyone?). I hope that this is just a temporary phase and after the Sweet Refrain (and a visit to the dentist) Nakata will remember what made Perfume so special in the first place. Let’s just hope the b-side will turn everything around once again (~ edge, FAKE IT, Handy Man)

Sweet Refrain: 2013.11.27

01. Sweet Refrain
02. 恋は前傾姿勢 (Koi wa Zenkeishisei)
03. Sweet Refrain -Original Instrumental-
04. 恋は前傾姿勢 -Original Instrumental-

Sweet Refrain –Video Clip-


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Capsule – CAPS LOCK




Why is Perfume or Kyary more popular than Capsule?
Because Perfume is a pop girl group, dumbass! – you might say.

Of course the point is not to be popular but to make (hopefully) good music. In anticipation for the new album many hoped that CAPS LOCK will glide on the success of LEVEL 3. Sadly, it feels like a lost potential. I really wanted to praise this album but CAPS LOCK leaves a Capsule fan disappointed.

Since their best album up to date More More More, the duo has been releasing some mildly successful records, with a few gems here and there but generally lacking coherence and strong sense of direction. However their new album, CAPS LOCK, marks a new low…

Many fans of Perfume also listen to Capsule and vice versa. After hearing the Perfume‘s fantastic last record you might have listened to Enter the Sphere and imagine that Capsule‘s latest album will evoke all that and better. That it will cumulate all the badassness, trippy club beats and take all that harder electro to the next level. Thirsty of the style we know, you reach for the new album to clench your thirst but CAPS LOCK tastes like a cold tea… no milk, no sugar, two days old tea. Yes, unfortunately it is a disappointment.

We’ve got an intro that’s less exciting than elevator music. CONTROL is promising, colourful although Toshiko’s vocals are so chopped up it ends up sounding a little annoying, like a leftover Miku Miku track (ouch…). DELETE starts underwhelming although it develops into a pleasant synth with atmosphere.


CONTROL, one of very few O-K moments on the album… :


12345678 is like a first year’s University student project in Sound Design. Some honking and creaking door layered together and inaudible vocals comes in. WHYYYY

SHIFT is almost good… almost. The cut up vocal salad remains a little annoying. It would have been fine if it was just a regular vocoder treatment but it’s not, it’s over done. Sorry Nakata.

ESC, another project of the same amateur Uni student, dripping water, ticking clock, wind. No music. Nakata is losing his mind.

SPACE sounds more like a Capsule track we know, albeit lacks a climax.

RETURN is a soothing piano number that goes into synth, like a synth lullaby. Somewhat nostalgic, pleasant.

And… that’s it. That’s all. There’s no JUMPER, there’s nothing you could bounce about to in a club, there’s nothing you’ll have on repeat on your iPod. It’s a huge dissapointment. With only 8 tracks, no strong single and style all over the place, this could easily be just an EP of 4 but instead it’s pretending to be an album. Shame.

Nakata remains a genius for sculpting the direction of Perfume and Kyary into success however… losing out on his own project. I do hope that the next material from Capsule will change our mind once again.


Here’s what we hoped CAPS LOCK would be but it’s not. Enter the Sphere by Perfume, Capsule‘s producer and mastermind :


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OH LAND – Renaissance Girls


Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 15.04.29


Renaissance Girls is an eloquent new single from Oh Land. Simple, fresh, fun and with a message. Oh Land talked about Renaissance Girls for Noisey:

‘It’s very much an ode to my friends who achieve on so many levels in life and they’re really good at doing everything at once. But also they can never sit down and relax. I can be a little bit like that as well: I beat myself up if I don’t make the perfect broth, and sing a concert in the evening, and go home and walk my dog, and then talk to my friend for two and half hours on Skype. Renaissance man is used for people like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who were super high achievers. I just wanted to make a female version of that.’


What does this single teach us? That a girl can make a decent pop track and a good video, look feminine and attractive WITHOUT busting out her tits, ass and all the slutty excuse of an ‘artistic freedom’.
People argue what Rihanna or Miley Cyrus bring to the table of music prostitution and what message do they send out. Well here’s an alternative to the pop-gutter-radio-vomit. A clever girl-power song. How refreshing? #notwerking


Enjoy! :

I call you honey you can cry on my shoulder
Let it all breath, I got a degree in psychology


Renaissance Girls is a new single from Oh Land‘s latest album Wish Bone, available internationally on iTunes. The album is a decent effort, loaded with breezy, minty fresh electronic pop. Oh Land is one to watch out for!


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To the point: LEVEL 3 is the best Perfume album yet. The record is a perfect balance between mainstream pop/dance and sophisticated electronica.

Clockwork is amongst the best tracks on the album. It has a hypnotic, inviting melody, thread with sweet, girly voices of A-chan, Kashiyuka and Nocchi. All this wrapped in a fuzzy layer of synth will get you coming back for more.

The album opens with Enter the Sphere, which sounds like the essence of Capsule’s trippy electro sound in a kaleidoscope… and then it sounds like a battle theme from Final Fantasy 7 for a moment. Edgy and very ‘right now’.

Another bright gem is Party Maker. It’s a terrific party anthem and really deserves its name. Made up of Nakata’s staple, driving beat and tied with just a few vocal lines into an uplifting ball of energy. This really isn’t pop anymore and that’s exactly the secret of Perfume’s success – the fact that their music is pushing the edges of what we consider to be ‘pop’ or ‘mainstream’ by truly creative use of voice processing, vocoder and layering.

1mm is used as the main track promoting LEVEL 3 and has everything that a Perfume song should have, catchy chorus, dance-inducing beat and sparkling synthesiser. All this in a slightly cold setting. Through processed vocals, lyrics show a human touch as they capture the feeling of being helplessly ‘not yet ready’.

Fans will appreciate the comeback of their favourite singles in a new form or remixes. Spring of Life (Album-mix) now has an extended intro that starts with, what was previously the interlude. It’s also tweaked with beats here and there to make it more club-friendly.

Magic of Love (Album-mix), on the other hand is worse than the original and sounds a bit flat. The cheesy ‘trumpet’ and a lighter edit makes it sound like a soundtrack to OutRun. Still, it’s heaps better than Mirai no Museum / 未来のミュージアム – the only downside of this album. Stuck in the middle of the tracklist it stands out like a sore thumb, or should I say, like a toddler in Ministry of Sound and that’s because it’s the most infantile-sounding Perfume track up to date. SKIP.

Spending all my time (Album-mix) is the best remix on the record. It sounds more restrained and structured. It gradually builds up to reveal the final chorus, which now sounds more powerful and exposed. This, gentlemen, is how you make a good remix.

We’ve also got the fan favourite b-sides, stylish and oriental Handy Man, electro-on-drugs Daijobanai / だいじょばない and dreamy Point / ポイント. There’s also Sleeping Beauty, a track which resembles Butterfly, with its hypnotically looped melody and little lyrics. Simple but full of atmosphere.

LEVEL 3 ends with Dream Land, which fits nicely into an ending. Mysterious and a little sad. The album really shows many shades of Perfume and, unlike all the pop artists who jump the ‘electro’ bandwagon ‘because it’s in right now’ Perfume (or Nakata) take it to another level and show real creativity beneath the synth and vocoders. LEVEL 3 is the best electro-pop album so far this year.



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