Rei Harakami

Opa*q

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Japan's contributions to electronica are among the strongest in the world. But while many producers reside in Tokyo--and therefore reflect the hypermodernity and kineticism of the city in their music--Rei Harakami's home is Kyoto. The prefecture is the historical seat of the Emperor, a religious and cultural center dotted with pavilions, shrines, and temples. Verdant mountains and brilliant foliage surround Harakami, not neon signs and skyscrapers.

The closeness to nature can be felt in Harakami's music. "Glimglim" burbles like a brook, nimble synth lines swim over pebbly bass runs and whitewater snares. Harakami's melodies are exquisite, soft as the curves of petals or the blush of the sunset. Two miniatures written as short-film soundtracks forgo beats for fluttering melodic explorations and wintry sound-scrapings. The more spirited "Double Flat" and "Triple Flat" revel in a fusion-y ballet of corkscrewing notes, fickle rhythms, and electric piano tickled as though traipsed across by mincing kitten paws. Though Harakami's beats dance, they are less dance beats than the rhythmic patter of rain ("Poof."). But excellent remixes by Ian O'Brien and Max404 fatten the rhythms, teasing out their inherent funkiness without sacrificing Harakami's delicate touch.

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