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#003: Jemapur - Dok Springs

Jemapur - Dok Springs

the lovely cover artwork by Hiroki Tsukuda

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Nujabes, the Japanese producer known for his anime-licking, head-bopping, cult-status jazzy beats, has been putting out music on his own label Hyde Out Productions and through his own record store (Tribe in Shibuya) for some time now. However this is the first release on the label to not feature Nujabes production (although he did master the record). So surely it must be something special. In fact it is.

This review is even more special and exclusive because it may well be the first review of the album in English (despite the album being available since October 2006).

Jemapur is a producer from Japan’s Shizuoka prefecture and has only had a few small releases prior to this debut, mostly remixes. On his myspace page Jemapur’s music is described as ‘electronica / breakbeat’ but don’t be fooled, Jemapur’s beats are hip hop influenced throughout.

The first track on the album, ‘Talked’, is a laid back melodic composition, flowing along nicely with some dampened drums on top. It makes you relax into your headphones, truly chilled out, comfortable about where the album is going, only to be woken up by the second track vibrating its chopped-up existential-discussion vocal sample into your ears.

The music in the album has two aspects; chilled ambient melodies and energetically chopped and beaten-up vocal samples, reminiscent of production by Prefuse 73. Track 3, ‘Hidden Microscope’, combines these two elements with ease, as just past its half-way mark samples slowly fade in and the track gradually gets overtaken by a mishmash of vocal clips and a dominating drum pattern.

‘Bidnezz’ feels like a aural translation of how you’d imagine a busy Tokyo street. Buzzing sounds surround you and knock each other in and out of a soundscape broken down by a lone piano, while male rap vocals battle female rock lyrics only for both to be trumped by a hilarious Michael Jackson loop at the climax.

A dope vibraphone calms the album halfway through in ‘Absence’ and loops in tandem with a piano, only interrupted by the pauses hinted at in the track’s title, featuring the same samples ghostly backspun.

‘Off The Wall’ features yet more chopped-up vocals, however they are beat-juggled into a rhythm and create a contrast with the next track ‘Moons And Cattails’, which is transcendent, atmospheric and defiantly Japanese.

The upbeat ‘Monochrome’ begins the last quarter of the album with crisp loud drums and a bass line that gradually builds-up to the final two tracks: the unusually titled ‘Pedd / Chair / Temma’ and ‘Bird Sanctuary’. These two compositions are probably the most similar to the work of Nujabes on the album but are expressively unique. Atmospherically mellow they guide the listener into an ethereal mind-zone to end the album.

Dok Springs is an album that requires several listens to appreciate. Its complex beats are absorbing in their subtlety; not to say that some of the tracks don’t pack a punch. ‘Springs’ is a good description of the album’s sound; watery natural aesthetics contrast against artificial noises as vocal samples meet with boldly Eastern production ethics. If you’re looking for a way to delve into a scene you may be missing out on (i.e. Japanese hip hop) or just in need of some new sounds and ideas then Dok Springs is highly recommended.

In the second track, ‘Light To Light’, the question is asked “what would it mean to own the universe?”. Jemapur is destined to only progress from this point and has the potential to become a producer of the same stature as Nujabes himself. To create an album as cohesive and memorable as Dok Springs is a grand achievement, especially when you find out that Jemapur is only 19.

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The copy reviewed here was purchased from the cool people at Juno Records in the UK. If you’re interested in the album it would be advised that you grab a copy from them right now before all their copies disappear. Otherwise the Japan-only nature of this release means importing from somewhere like hmv.co.jp or amazon.co.jp which ain’t cheap!

Further Listening:
Nujabes - ‘Metaphorical Music’ and ‘Modal Soul’ (Japan-only)
Prefuse 73
Daedelus

Links:
Jemapur
Jemapur on Myspace
Jemapur’s label
Hyde Out Productions

Reaching Higher Ground live
Absence live

9 Responses to “#003: Jemapur - Dok Springs”

  1. zulu9393 Says:

    Just checked this album… very, very solid. I’m a huge Prefuse 73 fan, and I’m really digging this dude’s sound. Good call Yo!

  2. digs86 Says:

    yo po! nice review, ai [+I] is feeling this album…

    some more subtly complex and absorbing tunes for your ears:

    lo Alternative Frequencies or loAF

    http://www.l-o-a-f.com

    check out Motohiro Nakashima’s album ‘I Dreamt Constellations Sang’

    It’s on the Rainstick Orchestra side of things

    with some lovely acoustic strings

    much peace!

  3. meloD Says:

    I love doksprings, one of my fav cd’s ever. thanks for the review every interesting

    I picked up this album few months ago from the tribe records shop in shibuya, took me sometime to find the place esp not knowing where it was haha… i just knew it was in Shibuya, after walking around for hours I followed the more urban japanese and graffiti, and i was lead to an alley where tribe records was.
    here are some pics i took at tribe records. dj fk was working at the time and hes a very talented guy, he has myspace.
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=tribe&w=39847688%40N00
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/deerek/

  4. yoyopo Says:

    dope flicks, thanks for sharing.

    missed tribe when i was at shibuya, dont know why. it’s calling me back there!

  5. yoyopop! » #026: Hydeout Productions: 2nd Collection Says:

    [...] The collection also includes a remix of Pase Rock’s ‘The Old Light’, which can already be found on his Bullshit As Usual album from 2003. This may disappoint some fans, especially when there’s a distinct lack of any new Jemapur tracks, a young jedi on the boards whose recent Hydeout album really left us wanting more! (read our review here) [...]

  6. yoyopo Says:

    http://www.putsonline.co.uk/yoyopop/music/041-evacuate-with-jemapur/

    Two years later, Jemapur is still only 21 years old and yes, he’s put out another album - Evacuation…

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