It takes truly amazing talent and vision for one song to turn an unknown name into a rising pop force in little over half a year, and for Amber Bain, AKA The Japanese House, her momentum hasn’t been as steady as that of her music.
After the release of her first song ‘Still,’ listeners became entranced by Bain’s unique approach to modern electronica; fusing indie-pop guitar licks with angelic synthesised atmospheres and flickering electronic rhythms. What really caught listening ears however, was the vocal production: manipulated pitch and layered harmonies that have us reminisce on the A Capella song ‘Hide & Seek’ by electronic innovator Imogen Heap.
For her second EP, Bain takes us on a stroll through the seasons with revitalising ambience. Title track ‘Clean’ welcomes the sparkle of a beautiful spring morning as she sings of purification in the light of a friend’s forgiveness. The music is laced with spellbinding bells that trickle around the cinematically grand synths that give the song a strong backbone.
“Each listen unveiling a new worn edge hidden in the spaces between Bain’s lyrics and the music’s richly produced landscapes.”
Summer takes us on a California drive in the shape of ‘Cool Blue’. By far the closest step to Pop that The Japanese House has taken, she takes influence from her collaborators, George Daniel and Matt Healy of The 1975. While Bain identifies some of the qualities within herself that she doesn’t like, she sings of an alleviating feeling that feels so soft and soothing that the object of her affection brings to her. The song lives up to its name as its lush body flows like a tranquil pool of sun-kissed electronica that breathes like the air between the sea and the sky.
Autumn is a time of change when every leaf is a flower. A less subtle approach is taken with ‘Letter By The Water,’ following on from the summer serenity of ‘Cool Blue,’ ‘Letter…’ begins with Bain’s trademark minimalistic production, but soon finds itself igniting into a head rush of diminished rock tones that soar through the chorus aloft the shifting ambience. A combination that would earn nods from the short-lived, but pivotal electronic band Frou Frou.
As Winter draws near, so does another year’s end, as must this tantalisingly brilliant EP. “Clean” closes on a much darker note with ‘Sugar Pill’. Here is where Bain dolefully describes herself as a sugar-coated pill that can control whoever takes her in. The track opens with a disquieting piano that soon tiptoes alongside wary new wave synths, before tripping into a chorus made up of glitching beats that stutter alongside a mournful Erhu.
As the EP come to a close, we find ourselves continually captivated in The Japanese House’s beguiling melancholy. Each listen unveiling a new worn edge hidden in the spaces between Bain’s lyrics and the music’s richly produced landscapes.
“Clean” is available for download now. Watch the video for ‘Cool Blue’ below