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On Air Next: Radio 1190 gets experimental with SPELLLING, Panda Bear and the pioneers of New Age in Japan

  • "Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental, and New Age Music 1980-1990"

    "Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental, and New Age Music 1980-1990"

  • "Mazy Fly" by SPELLLING

    "Mazy Fly" by SPELLLING

  • "Bouys" by Panda Bear

    "Bouys" by Panda Bear



Things are getting weird this week at Radio 1190. We’ll be spinning experimental music from all different genres.

The artist SPELLLING (yes that’s with three L’s) released her sophomore album, “Mazy Fly.” Reminiscent of Björk or FKA Twigs, this album is experimental pop heaven. The album is incredible to listen to front to back, and it takes you through a strange, goth, futuristic journey. The fourth song on the record, “Melted Wings,” sounds like it could be on the Skyrim soundtrack and leads into the unreasonably catchy, almost ABBA-like pop song “Under the Sun.” Droning ambient synths layered under belting and somewhat unstable pop vocals make for an unlikely but so satisfying combination. Each song presents you with a new, bizarre electronic instrument, which makes the journey of this album so weird and exciting. This album transports you to a haunted house that’s located in pop hell, and while you’re listening to this record, it’s the only place you want to be.

This week, we were blessed by the label Light In The Attic Records, which released a compilation album of Japanese New Age ambient music called “Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental, and New Age Music 1980-1990.” The 10-track album contains gems from a handful of the original pioneers of new age music in Japan. Harnessed with both analog instruments and synthesizers that were at the forefront of electronic music, every artist crafts songs that are uniquely lush and rich in texture. These never-before-heard songs were precursors to so much of the experimental electronic music we know now, and these artists found a unique and breathtaking way to use synthesizers before they were popularized. The album feels how you feel the moment you wake up in the morning — calm, detached from the real world, half awake, half asleep, and comfortable in your bed. The album contains the great ambient artists of Japan, who all have their own particular way of using space, sound and texture to craft an all-encompassing sonic experience. The cover art — a photo of a modern, white building in green landscape — captures the sound of the album: simple, peaceful, comfortable.

Panda Bear recently released the much-anticipated album “Buoys.” Co-founder of the renowned experimental-pop duo Animal Collective, Panda Bear’s latest record lives up to the hype. His earlier music leaned toward a more distinctly electronic sound, but this album embraced acoustic instruments unlike before. Everything is still heavily electronically processed, but many of the songs include acoustic guitar riffs, which came as a surprise to me. The acoustic tones and the tones of the synthesizers bring me back to some of Animal Collective’s early albums, which I embrace with a warm welcome. The chord progressions on this record are particularly inspiring. Panda Bear is a musical genius, so it was no surprise that the chord and melodic structures on this album were ethereal. The whole album brought to mind Cornelius, an incredible experimental-pop artist out of Japan who also often mixes acoustic guitar with electronic music. The album blurs the lines of acoustic and electronic music in a peculiar and beautiful way.

Koett is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: