Sophomore LP Chang! is out now via Roman Label / bayon production.
Who: Meirin Yung
What: Synthpop, Self Described “Anti-EDM”
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Why: Working under the very odd, and slightly off-putting, moniker of Zombie-Chang, Meirin released one of 2016’s oddest and most engrossing albums with Zombie Change. Blending synthpop, dream pop, and hip hop with an almost Dan Bejar-esque out of tune singing style, Zombie Change was an extended middle finger to everything about safe, over produced electronic pop music in Japan. Coming from a punk background, Meirin approached electronic music like it was the purest, most authentic 4-track punk she’d ever recorded, refusing to allow collaborators in and making music on the fly, putting it all together loosely and without too much concern for slight mistakes or imperfections. The result was very much the “anti-EDM” she claimed it was, a brand of electronic music that warranted comparisons to oddball western contemporaries like Grimes.
Imagine the surprise of many a fan popping in her new album Gang! for the first time. Here the tracks feel laboured on and richly layered, trading out-of-tune singing for something full-bodied and tuneful. On tracks like the opener “I Cant Get To Sleep”, and the ballad “Kouraken” the music seems suspended in place, with layers of instrumentation gliding over each other, crystal clear in the mix, a massive departure from the wall of sound and ideas that would flow over you in Zombie-Change. Regardless, it still manages to keep its anti-commercial ethos firmly at heart, if in an admittedly different way. These tracks build inward and explode through drum breaks and dreamy washed out synths, never indulging in anything over sugary or emotions that are easy to digest. It’s an album that yells loudly but keeps its reasons for why close to its chest. Playing out two albums worth of ideas in a short 24 minutes, keeping its distance all the way. If Zombie-Change was the announcement that a unique artist had entered the Japanese musical landscape, then Gang! is the follow-up announcement that a fully realized one has.