Daisuke Tanabe is a music producer from Chiba, Japan, who spent some time in the UK and now calls Tokyo home. His work, at least on his sophomore LP, Floating Underwater, is a mix of various strands of music. You could call it hip hop. You could call it techno. There’s breakbeats going on. Also, there’s just a hint of folk and jazz in the proceedings as well. So if you’re going to call Tanabe anything, you would not say that he is boring. Throughout the course of this 15-track LP, there’s a touch of the humorous, if not the absurd: songs have titles such as “Shopping Mall Super Star”, “Sunny Tunnel” and “Blue Rats”. If anything, Tanabe loves an oxymoron. However, the music on this album is simply pure enchantment: Tanabe conjures a sense of magic realism with his sounds in the same way fellow Japanese author Haruki Murakami is known to bend reality to his will. Some of this music even tiptoes ever so gently into video game soundtracks: at one point, I heard the sound of a power-up from Super Mario Bros. used, or, at least, something that sounds a whole lot like it.
However, as much as Floating Underwater is a pop culture-saturated work, it is also artistic. Tanabe weaves melodies like folding paper (note that there’s a song called “Origami” here) and the music starts and stops, herks and jerks, and is cut up and reconfigured in various interesting ways. However, the most interesting thing about this record is its use of beats of various textures and colors. They’re clear and liquefied, providing a direction to the emotional zone that Tanabe is tapping into: sometimes they’re hard and bracing, sometimes they’re downright childlike. So, even though Floating Underwater is an instrumental album, Tanabe finds a way to express himself without using words. And the end result is startling and thoroughly engaging. Tanabe has created an album that you experience and is satisfyingly powerful: it is equally alluring each successive time you listen to it as it was the first. Floating Underwater offers all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore, and speaks loudly to the inner landscape of the mind — this is stuff to daydream to. If you want to hear something new (or, at least, feels new) and exciting, you could do no wrong in exploring Floating Underwater. This is staggering, heart-wrenchingly beautiful music for just about anyone interested in modern electronica.