On this second volume, focus is laid on the boogier side of Japanese sonics, nimbly moving the cursor from jazz to Afro-house, via deep technoid wares and spaced-out funky business. Setting the tone without further ado, Seiji Ono’s sun-streaked chugger ‘Celebrate Your Life’ is the very epitome of a time-proof party anthem; a buoyant and catchy ode to Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage that keeps on giving even after the thousandth listen. A dynamic ride down memory lane, Uyama Hiroto’s Afro-Bossa number ‘Compass’ delivers a suspended moment in time, halfway the soothing ethereality of Brazilian folk and syncopated patterns of African music. Up with the very much sub-Saharan-influenced ‘Pray’, J.A.K.A.M. takes us on a luminous ride across endless dunes of sand and lush oases of melodic abundance and polyrhythmic flair.
Yuu Udagawa turns in the jacking ‘We Float’, a proper NYC-style piece of abstract hip-hop and Chicagoan house laced into one lithe dance-floor churner, whereas Jazztronik summons ancient woodlands spirits on the kalimba-heavy ’Neon Forest’, ushering us into a world of pure soulfulness where ghostly silhouettes float in a haze of shakuhachi flutes and vaporous pads. We all know a classic slab of piano house done the right way is hard to resist, but when Brisa opts for this tried-and-tested route on ’State of Mind’, he nevertheless injects it with the kind of refinement and oomph you simply have to bow down before. The Backwoods remix of Ryoma Takemasa ‘Deepn’’ opens a spacious window that looks out onto a dreamy skyscape where the stripped-back rhythmic grammar of atmospheric techno rubs shoulders with that of electronica’s deep focus.
Not just contributing the aforementioned remix, The Backwoods - alias DJ Kent, steps up with the big-room momentum of ‘Cloud Nine’ - an alt-rock-influenced piece of racing electronics bound for ecstatic after-partying and beachside boogie with your loved one at sunrise. In the hands of Hiroshi Watanabe, 909state ‘RaTaTaTam’ morphs into an entrancingly beautiful mix of slo-burning prog techno and neo-classical orchestration, just as sleek and elegant as it proves deadly in a club context. Graced with similar melodic accoutrements, Satoshi Fumi’s rework of Tomi Chair ‘Remorse’ offers a grandiose and mood-enhancing display of piano-riddled techno bravura, clearly geared up for climactic DJ use. A magmatic finale that lacks neither that stadium-sized oomph, nor Fumi’s hallmark of all-around compositional excellence.