Little Birds, Moonbath (feat Michelle Helene Mackenzie) (6:06)
Tipu's Tiger (feat Pender Street Steppers) (10:11)
Of Yesterday (instrumental) (5:37)
The Ultimate Which Manages The World (4:40)
Words Without Sound (6:09)
Review: With a drowsy, loved-up trademark sound that sits somewhere between the beach, bedroom and the dancefloor, Canada's Yu Su is a great fit for Music From Memory offshoot Second Circle. The resultant EP is arguably her strongest to date. She begins by enlisting the help of Michelle Helene Mackenzie, who provides a drowsy spoken word vocal on the ultra-deep and starry brilliance of "Little Birds, Moonbath". Fellow Vancouver residents Pender Street Steppers lend a hand on the deep and picturesque shuffle of "Tipu's Tiger", while "Of Yesterday (Instrumental)" sees Yu Su wrap meandering synth solos atop hazy chords and gentle tribal drums. Elsewhere, "The Ultimate Which Manages The World" is dubbed-out and effortlessly Balearic, while "Words Without Sound" offers up more intricate hand percussion and some sparse electronic elements.
Review: Having previously issued Akiko Yano's 1976 debut "Japanese Girl" - an eccentric set of East-West pop fusions marked out by the artist's distinctive vocals - Wewantsounds has returned to raid her vaults once more. "Iroha Ni Konpeitou" first appeared in 1977 and garnered great hype in Japan thanks to the success of its predecessor. It's a similarly eccentric but inspired set, with Yano confidently flitting between synthesizer-heavy instrumental soundscapes (see superb opener "Kawaji"), drowsy country-inspired songs ("A Long Wait"), seductive jazz-funk ("Hourou"), head-nodding reggae-boogie ("Hai Hai Gasa") and breathy, post-soul ballads ("On The Way Home", a song that boasts both pedal steel and synthesizers).
Review: Although not that well known in Europe, Akiko Yano's "Japanese Girl" set caused a stir in the Japanese music scene upon its release in 1976, not least because her vocal style was closer to the intonations of breathy American pop than the more "girlish" approach prevalent in J-pop at the time. Here reissued by We Want Sounds, the album remains something of an unusual but brilliant J-pop classic. Its 10 tracks variously draw influence from country music, reggae, blue-eyed soul, jazz-fusion, West Coast rock, folk and traditional Japanese music, without particularly sounding like any of them.
Review: Here's something to raise the spirits: a double-pack containing a quartet of Andrew Weatherall remixes of "Frautonium", the opening track from Yello's largely disappointing 2016 full-length, Toy. Cannily, the former Lord Sabre has taken elements from the Swiss veterans' original version and made four varied new tracks. "Warehouse" is a trippy chunk of techno built around rubbery drums and wild electronics, while "Half-Life" is a woozy chunk of throbbing late night cosmic house. "Battery", meanwhile, laces kosmiche synths and trippy electronics over an electro-influenced new wave beat, before the gently positive "Reactor" sees him in full-on A Love From Outer Space mode. There's also a tasty bonus in the shape of a luscious ambient rework of "Lombok" by former Yello manager (and Shamen collaborator) Ian Tregoning.
Review: The US' Music On Vinyl always provides the quality reissues, and best of all, they do it quietly, leaving the diggers and owners of the original copies still relatively chuffed with their treasures. As such, it's the Yellow Magic Orchestra that receives the reissue treatment this time, a Japanese electro-pop outfit formed in 1979, and which includes the great Haruomi Hosono on bass - producer of the timeless and mind-bending "Hosono House". Solid State Survivor was the band's second album, and although it was released before the start of the '80s, it already contains remnants of electronic dance music as we know it today. The glassy opener is called "Technopolis", for example, and the majestic synth twists of "Rydeen" are a pleasure to our ears even today. There are slower, more magical moments such as "Castalia", but the winner for us is probably "Insomnia", a great piece of drunken drum machine drums and wonky melodies. An absolute must, even for the non-Japanese heads.