Bassy dreampop delights
There’s an intriguing electronic music scene in Japan at the moment which is the polar opposite of the more familiar primary colours of the contemporary J-Pop scene.
Jesse Ruins is a good example of this with their moody electronic soundscapes and ambient pop. We previously discussed the work of Sapphire Slows and both acts typify a flourishing electronica movement in Tokyo.
Jesse Ruins began life as a solo affair by Nobuyuki Sakuma back in 2010. The first release was a cassette issued on Tokyo-based indie label Cuz Me Pain which led to an inclusion on a Cuz Me Pain compilation album the same year. In 2011 Sakuma was joined by the enigmatically named Nah.
The outfit then began to attract interest from various music blogs (including The Guardian and Gorilla vs. Bear). A 7” release titled ‘A Bookshelf Sinks Into the Sand’ emerged on the UK-based Double Denim Records label in December of last year. They also signed to US label Captured Tracks label in late 2011 and this resulted in the album Dream Analysis released in February this year.
There’s a cryptic quality to Jesse Ruins. You’re not going to see pics of Nobuyuki and Nah on the sleeves of their releases anytime soon and the biogs available online offer only the briefest of details. So it’s the music that’s stage front – and great music it is too.
The track ‘Dream Analysis’ itself is a wonderfully tight song of subtle pop that has a driving bassline that recalls New Order. There’s washes of indistinct treated vocals that can find echoes in artists such as Sapphire Slows and Grimes.
Similarly, tracks such as ‘I Knew It’ and ‘Shatter The Jewel’ share this driving bassy pop.
‘Inner Ambient’ is a hypnotic number with restrained rhythms full of mood and atmosphere. Meanwhile, ‘Sofija’ is a track that perfectly captures the dreampop tag with its ambient washes.
Jesse Ruins have also recently made the jump to live shows (they’re touring Japan this month) and appear to be building a steady following both at home and abroad.
Dream Analysis is out now on Captured Tracks.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.