Is (Is Superpowered)

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Following a series of obscure releases containing the nonsensical word Ufunfunfufu in their titles, Japanese glitch-pop artist Kyoka moved to Raster-Noton, which issued her full-length Is (Is Superpowered) in 2014. While the album contains the type of sharp, acutely arranged sine-wave bursts one might expect from a Raster-Noton release, there's a surprising amount of playfulness to Kyoka's music, making the album one of the most fun releases in the label's catalog. Her vocals are a bit shadowy and reserved, and often digitally fragmented, but the beats are generally upfront and propulsive. They also veer in unexpected directions, such as the slightly off-time rhythm that sneaks in halfway during "New Energy Shuffle." "Lined Up" throws in some glitched-out Rasta vocals over a buzzing electro-clash track, sounding somewhat like a toned-down version of something off Mu's Afro Finger & Gel. Similarly, the more aggressive "Piezo Version Vision" features a cameo from dancehall reggae veteran Lone Ranger, and sneaks in what sounds like a submerged '80s freestyle sample. Somehow, Mike Watt figures into this; he's listed as contributing bass to three of the album's tracks. Is (Is Superpowered) still has the type of austere, machine-like demeanor common to Raster-Noton's output, but there's much more of a human touch to this album.

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