Sunday, September 25, 2022

Musician Cuushe releases mesmerizing synth-pop album Waken

‘Magic’ swerves into earshot with a tumble of bass, its slacker guitar riffs and striking vocals winding their way through a forest of synths for a dark, mesmerising track.

Shedding the fog and haze of dream-pop, Cuushe aka Japanese artist Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi puts clear outlines on her music with new album WAKEN — a collection of vital, dancefloor-ready beats and analog soundscapes woven with her newly freed voice.

Cuushe has always been in constant motion. Raised in Kyoto, growing up in Osaka and later moving to Japan’s over-stimulating capital, Tokyo, the Japanese artist would go on to make London, then Berlin, her home. Now based in Tokyo, and with three albums, multiple singles and EPs to her name, Cuushe starts a new chapter of her music career having lived what could be described as a reverie-like life, changing residences between different global cities around the world: Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, London and Berlin. But after the traumatic experience of harassment, as detailed by Resident Advisor, the dream seemed to have ended. She became keenly aware of feeling powerless. But, rediscovering herself during this period, and following a hospitalization, Cuushe has shed the fog of her previously dream-pop creations and put the clear outlines of reality on her music.

The “Magic” video is directed by Tao Tajima with animation from Yoko Kuno.Tajima’s world view is characterized by his skilful use of light to transform ordinary, everyday scenes. In his previous works, the light flooding from the music blends in with the every day, and on “Magic” he combines animation with a series of spectacular landscapes. Yoko Kuno, who won international acclaim for her work on Cuushe’s Airy Me, works in a variety of fields including film, commercials and manga. She has also done the artwork for Cuushe‘s last two albums, as well as WAKEN. Together, Tao and Yoko have created an entirely different and magical world. Watch the new video on YouTube.

WAKEN moves through flamboyant analog synthesizers that seem to communicate with the universe, distorted guitars and mille-feuille-layered choruses, such as on the touching ‘Beautiful’. Wildly struck snares and beats recall the rave sounds of the ’90s, energetic, carefree.

It results in a dense dance floor of sound, from the UK garage-tinged rainy night feel of ‘Emergence’ and the shuffling tick of ‘Drip’, all the way to the tumble of vital drum and bass-flavoured beats in ‘Not to Blame’. With this strong percussive foundation, WAKEN thumps with a heartbeat of self-expansion and solidarity, an exercise in freedom. Cuushe’s voice — once hazy, indistinct — is now stronger, louder and clearer than ever, looking forward into the light.

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