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Sounding out technology.
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Japanese Pop-Noise MP3s

Taeji Sawai offers up several free downloads on his personal site (taeji.org) that find various means to balance two divergent tendencies: noise and pop. “BBBB” plays static like it’s a tenuous vocal above a minimal techno beat, drums entering tentatively, breaks lending a certain drama (MP3). Ditto “erty” (MP3), which is a little more straightforward, with its cash-register metrics and android birdsong. A track titled “losi” is a real ear-opener (MP3); it starts with this escalating interference that suggests another entry in the ever-expanding catalog of Japanese noise, but then that raspy sound tapers into a rough rhythm, with a light melody that plays at quarter speed.

One other highlight is “Something in the Way” (MP3), which pairs Sawai with vocalist Aco for a lovely bit of trip-hop that brings to mind how fruitful, not to mention natural, are the overlaps between hip-hop and experimental electronic music in Japan. There is also an inexplicable cover of Madonna’s “Material Girl.”

By Marc Weidenbaum

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