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Yama Warashi
Crispy Moon Daryl Worthington , June 7th, 2022 08:39

Yama Warashi plays with time and space on an album that, for all its diverse influences, is pop through and through, finds Daryl Worthington

Conventional wisdom says the prime length for a pop song is about three minutes, and the economics of streaming apparently mean it’s getting shorter. But on new album ‘Crispy Moon,’ Yama Warashi shows these numbers are arbitrary. Pop music is at its most potent when it lets someone else’s reality into your own, whether it takes two minutes or ten.

Japanese-born, currently London-based Yama Warashi, aka Yoshino Shigihara, cites Japanese folk dances, free jazz and traditional rhythms from Africa as influences but that’s only scratching the surface. These nine tracks fly through flashes of angular post-punk energy, wide-eyed rides through the cosmos, intricate percussion and all manner of other twists and turns. Journeying without meandering, the songs never force different musical traditions onto each other. Instead, there’s a flow which feels rooted in receptivity and experience, of constant internal and external exploration rather than simple mimesis.

Six-ish minute opener ‘Makkuroi Mizu’ condenses from celestial drift into an almost reggae like groove before an explosive crescendo. ‘Umi No Mon’, 5:44 long, starts with a tentative stumble and ends in a skyward gallop. The shorter songs have as much depth and variety, ‘Saku Saku’ veers from restricted horn blasts into an endless ascent. The musical arrangements imbue narrative weight, simultaneously setting the scene and sucking you in.

Her songs fan out horizontally and vertically. Like choose your own adventure stories, the tracks give us options on how to absorb this record. You can take a top-down view and absorb the intricate arrangements and sinuous toplines whole. Or you can pick one instrument and follow it through, whether the liquid movement of the bass lines, utterly captivating in themselves, the waves of countermelody and dancing harmony, or the vibrant brass arrangements that twist from airy texture into swarms of gravity.

But for all this complexity and sonic diversity, it’s at points borderline proggy diversions, Crispy Moon is pop. It’s music of kinetics and connection. For singing and dancing along even if you don’t know the words or the melodies are unfamiliar.

Kendrick Lamar ft Blxst & Amanda Reifer’s ‘Die Hard’ is 3:59 long, Sparks’ ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us’ is 3:04. Good Vibrations is 3:45, 100 Gecs ‘Money Machine’ is 2:30, Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ is 4:21. The idea pop music is short and getting shorter isn’t linear. What’s universal is the sharing of experience. Crispy Moon is an invitation, a warm welcome to become immersed in Yoshino’s singular embrace of a fantastic world.