The Japanese House, comprised of Amber Bain and her ingenious imagination, released their second EP, titled Clean, in November 2015 under Dirty Hit. They’ll be hitting up the 2016 Shaky Knees Festival on the first day of the festival. Nota Bene: You might need the rest of the weekend to recover.
“Clean” begins like an errand-filled Saturday morning, then the beat drops. The Japanese House’s beat is an existential exclamation that can teleport the listener and bend time. Bain is known for her layered sound. Listening to “Clean,” the music reverberates through my head, playing my temporal lobes like a xylophone, with vocals that could keep you warm on an autumn day when you realize that you’re under dressed and you’re already out of the house.
The Japanese House – “Clean” on Youtube
The second song of the EP, titled “Cool Blue,” penetrates your head with vocals like vegan lasagna: artfully layered but not so heavy they stick. If I heard “Letter by the Water” once on the radio in my car, I know I would spend weeks hating everything that was not this song. Hearing it for the first time while sitting in a café, I was able to surrender to the sound. A minute after the song ended, I realized I was staring into the space between the bread counter and the brick wall, motionless, wishing it was just an extended rest and that soon that scrumptious sound would continue. It did not, but gracias a dios there is one more song to devour.
“Sugar Pill” made me think of beauty. If the vast majority – if not all – of the images we see in print are now altered to illustrate an impossibly unattainable standard of beauty, there is the still the occasional image that, untouched, displays a beauty so incredible and real that it takes your breath away. “Sugar Pill” is that picture. Yes, there is production involved in the song, and yes, it is comprised mainly of electronic layers. But the song has a sound that is, for lack of another word, real. And that element of reality gives it a sheen of beauty that cannot possibly come from a large production company with a hierarchy of white men in suits. The Japanese House has a style and sound tinged with a brilliance that reflects reality and amplifies the subtle variations – I believe Alan Watts referred to them as “wiggles” – that infuse each day with beauty, whether we choose to notice or not.
Catch The Japanese House on May 13th at The Shaky Knees Festival. That show just might change your perception of everything.