April to June was full of inspiring news of J-pop artists succeeding in other countries. Perfume performed at Coachella, Wednesday Campanella played Primavera, Haru Nemuri went on the road in Europe, and CHAI embarked on a tour in the United States. Babymetal also led the way for idol groups by debuting at Glastonbury. There is an audience for this music outside of Japan, and the artists themselves are taking notice. “There are people from abroad who come see us and reply to us on social media, so lately I’ve been wanting to perform overseas,” BiSH’s Cent Chihiro Chitti recently shared on music program Japan Countdown. Hopefully more acts get opportunities to travel and play their music as the year goes on. Here are some great singles by idol groups released from the year’s second quarter.
With half the year now resolved, we face the downhill slope as the last few moments of the 2010s are destined to rush past us. Likewise in rap, it feels like we’re hurtling towards a breaking point. More and more, the industry feels determined to serve up ideas that seem novel or fascinating at the start, but now feel exhausted and overly ‘familiar’. Soon, another generation will become the more prominent ‘young audience’ for the genre, and the next few years are going to signify a broader shift as musical styles and tastes will change—perhaps for the better of the genre, and all of us! It’s hard to predict accurately when any of these propositions will come into vogue with a more general audience, but even the most seemingly inane threads have served as useful genesis for ideas far down the line. For the moment, it’s simply a matter of granting due diligence to as much as possible while rejecting the eager desire to point to some self-appointed ‘zeitgeist’ which almost always fails to include a broader picture. This quarter finds rappers who are echoing the dawn of the decade’s trends through refinements, hint at breaking away from the pack, or have been the ones leading the jump the whole time.
Saba Alizadeh’s Scattered Memories was one of Tone Glow’s favorite albums of the year’s first quarter. We caught up with him to discuss his influences, the ideas and practices that inform his work, and what it’s like to create music with his father.
In the first weekend of May, after some late snowfall had cleared, the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York held the fifth annual Nitrate Picture Show. Nitrate film stock, manufactured until 1952, was the dominant medium on which all kinds of films were shot and projected for roughly the first sixty years of cinema’s lifespan. Now, it is scarcely projected. Devotees of the medium insist on its unparalleled beauty, its depth of colour, its dark blacks and brilliant whites. They will tell you you’ve never really seen a classic film—Casablanca, Black Narcissus—until you’ve seen it on nitrate. They compare it to a religious experience.
Marja Ahti’s Vegetal Negatives is one of the most intriguing records of the year. Inspired in part by René Daumal’s metaphysical essay On pataphotograms, the album finds Ahti shedding her Tsembla moniker and creating music in a brand new manner. The Finnish artist discusses her newest album, her work with the Himera work group, and more.