A modern made in Japan classic with Sweet William's 'Jasmine Instrumentals'

Born in 1990, producer / beatmaker from Aichi Prefecture Sweet William took the Japanese hip hop scene by storm alongside Okinawan MC 唾奇 (Tsubaki) - with the release of their album ‘Jasmine’ in 2017.

The release received widespread support, largely for it’s smooth, expertly-crafted beats and head-nodding lyrical wordplay. But in many ways, it is the album’s deep and personal approach that makes it an honest gem of Japanese modern music. The album’s title ‘Jasmine’ refers to the local tea of Okinawa, which has been a favourite drink on the islands since the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom for hundreds of years. The title sums up the sound and feel of the album well: a refreshing and fragrant experience with notes of nostalgia. The release is an invigorating start to finish listen with guest appearances from Fukuoka-born singer Kiki vivi lily and Tokyo rapper Jinmenusagi.

Following up this modern day classic is a recently released fresh perspective on the album - Jasmine Instrumentals. Stripping away all the extras to let Sweet William’s meticulous productions speak for themselves, the album contains velvety keys, crunchy beats and crisp samples. There’s even a bonus beat ‘Walkin’ (above) not previously found on the original album.

’Jasmine Instrumentals’ is highly recommended for any hip hop head, beat scene fan, or someone who just needs a good chill after a long week.

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Spiritual music from a Tokyo Dragonfly

Next up for your listening pleasure is a local (for those of us in Japan, that is) Japanese artist, Tonbo (meaning Dragonfly in Japanese). Tonbo has been flying around the Tokyo underground electronic music scene for some years now, exploring the spiritual side of music and Japanese culture. Tonbo produces, DJs, plays guitar and even gets on the mic from time to time. He also puts on a regular party dubbed the Tonbo Matsuri, (Dragonfly Festival) which is described as, "...a crazy bash to make a place for releasing spirits." Our featured track, "Gion", comes from the recently released Yellow Trance EP. It’s been released on the Psymatics label and follows Tonbo's first full length album, released in early 2017, Tokyo Mad Cave. Tonbo works and collaborates with numerous musicians and creators, "Gion" follows that trend. The tune features the Japanese traditional string instrument the shamisen, as played by Tokyo Ghetto Shamisen.

"Gion" is hard to pin down, it dabbles in the ambient, downtempo and psychedelic genres, while also containing elements of minimal, acid house and trance. As a whole it has a deep, transcendental feeling, combining analog and digital sounds. There's both traditional Japanese drums and our aforementioned shamisen playing a dominant role in the track, along with electronic drum beats, treble droplets, and a constant bassline. At times the track feels foreign and cold but always maintains a feeling of Japaneseness; a certain ancient spirituality, that lingers throughout.

Tonbo is an interesting experience listening to in single track form. A given tune feels like it belongs to a piece of a much bigger expression. I have a feeling a full set from Tonbo is an experience that is sure to transport participants to another world and may very well be up to the task of releasing a spirit or two in the process.

If our Dragonfly man Tonbo has enticed you, as he has me, make sure to give him a look on the following platforms.

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New Soulful Hip-Hop from Big-O and P-Rawb

The American producer / MC duo of Orlando Turner, aka 'Big O', and Patrick Roberts, aka 'P-Rawb' come correct with their new single 'Good Company.' 

Forgoing the usual trappings of cash, women and expensive cars for a more soulful take on the genre, the two describe the new track as "a song about finding peace within yourself and surrounding yourself with the company of good people to help you move forward in life."

With P-Rawb lacing the A side with a skillful, feel-good flow, the collab comes together like a backyard BBQ on a chill summer day. The B side instrumental version of the track enters with profound strings and keys setting up for something special. With a rolling, percussion-rich beat, the track contains just the right amount of weight and finesse. With mixing and mastering coming from Portland based audio engineer, Kevin Carafa, not only is the beat infectious but the whole track sounds crisp, clear and well balanced. 

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Lush downtempo from Japanese producer- KEET

KEET is a Japanese artist, designer and producer who crafts chilled out, downtempo beats. Previously studying music theory and jazz piano, he was attracted to beatmaking and electronic music for it's limitless sonic potential and creative flexibility. 

In addition to his audio prowess and crisp beats, KEET also designs his own cover art. He designs both the audio and visual designs in parallel, so as to compliment one another and serve as a singular cohesive package. 

His recent track 'Told you so' is a fresh twilight drive along the Japanese coast. A 5 minute journey through falling keys, cascading vocals and gently lapping guitar fading into the distance. 

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An Acid House Rollercoaster from Japan's CD Hata and Koyas

Japanese producer Koyas and his Tokyo-based label 'Psymatics' continue their eclectic collaboration series with a fresh creative amalgamation for the third instalment. This time welcoming experienced producer and multi-instrumentalist: CD Hata. 

Hata serves as the synth player, producer, and remix director for the well-known Japanese psychedelic jam band 'Dachambo.' Formed in 2001, the band's free form live jams, deep tribal rhythms and energetic stage presence has made them a festival favourite in Japan. In addition to his participation in the band, CD Hata also works on his solo production and DJ projects, which has brought him to festivals and club events around the world.

Koyas is a producer, DJ, and label owner based in Tokyo. He manages the label 'Psymatics' which releases a variety of electronic music with an emphasis on spontaneous live creation. Koyas is also one of the first Ableton certified trainers in Japan and runs Ableton Meetup Tokyo; a regular producers' meetup that features guest speakers and workshops. In addition to his active duties as a trainer and organizer, Koyas has released on quality Japanese imprints such as Jet Set, Third ear, Grand Gallery and more. 

'Spring Lover' is a reconstructed recording of a hardware-drive session from the 2 experienced producers. Showcasing the live, spontaneous nature of the collaboration, the track's acid bassline chugs ahead like a locomotive while live synth solos and eclectic effects bring further flavour to the sonic framework. 

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New album from Chill electronic producer- Hotwax

Hotwax is 24 year old musician and producer Adam Keilbach. Adam is a self-taught musician and electronic music producer, and since 2011 has been crafting downtempo tunes with chilled out vibes, engaging hooks, atmospheric beats.

Based in Florida, Keilbach has released across a number of domestic and international labels including: Bad Pop (Mexico), Vacant Music (South Carolina), Intelligent Sound (Missouri), 2060 (Washington) and has contributed remixes to up and coming artists such as James Deen, Conclave, and fka Spazzkid. 

Last year Adam dropped his debut album- 'Communicator' on Olympia, Washington eclectic tape label, 2060. The album, consisting of 12 tracks packed with lush soundscapes and ethereal melodies, featured a number of special musical collaborations including live guitar from Nate Wagner and vocals from Navigateur and Steffalloo. 

Now, fresh off the press, we have the brand new Hotwax album entitled 'Nightwatch' to share with all you music heads today. Released just yesterday on Texas label 'Sleepless Collective', the album features 7 tracks of expertly articulated, synth-laden electronic experiences. From the upbeat, drum-driven rhythm of 'Nightwatch' to the minimal and melancholic 'Secret River' the album showcases Keilbach's skill in creating infectious, synth heavy atmospheres that are as cinematic as they are serene. 

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