Ethereal moods from Japan…
One of the more interesting and intriguing acts to emerge from the Japanese electronic music scene comes courtesy of the ethereal soundscapes of Sapphire Slows.
Composing tunes in her bedroom on her trusty laptop this Tokyo-based musician has also made impressions in the west with the release of the True Breath EP – a collection of evocative tunes employing minimal beats and dream-like vocals. Delicate melodies are picked out over dense rhythm beds providing an immersive sea of sound.
There’s a particular spectral ambience present on much of Sapphire Slows’ material. Tracks such as ‘Animal Dreams’ and ‘Spin Lights Over You’ are stunningly effective examples of Sapphire Slows’ use of hypnotic treated vocals combined here and there with insistent basslines and stark melodies. ‘You Got True Breath’ is a broody slow burn of a song that makes fine use of Slows’ dreamy vocal washes.
If there’s a Western equivalent then the closest would be that of Grimes, the Canadian-based artist who, like Sapphire Slows, is a solo artist working with electronic music that evokes a particular ethereal mood. Like Grimes, Sapphire Slows writes and produces her material alone, writing into the early hours in her bedroom. Her set-up is also surprisingly simple, consisting of a Mac, Casio keyboard and a rhythm machine.
Her initial release was the 7” ‘Melt’, issued on the Big Love label last year. She gained interest in the west after sending one of her tracks to LA-based label Not Not Fun who suggested a release, which led to the True Breath EP. Building on this, Sapphire Slows made an appearance in March this year at the SXSW event in Texas where she won over the audience with her solo performance.
If you’re a fan of Technopop, but like to step down a gear or two at times, then Sapphire Slows might be a very good place to start.
An album has been hinted at in the future, but for now the True Breath EP is available for download through all the usual sources.
True Breath is available via Amazon: True Breath
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.