Diandra’s 2017 in New Music

Jlin (aka Jerrilynn Patton) melded Chicago’s “footwork” dance genre into her own style of precise turns and unceasing segues, as shown on the album Black Origami. Running through tracks like Kyanite [1], Hatshepsut [1], and Challenge (To Be Continued) [1] is a charge of crashes and creation. After Black Origami, her later track ICU was featured on Adult Swim’s Singles program [1].

The sophisticated, eccentric multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Clementine not only guested on the Gorillaz track Hallelujah Money [MV] but also released the album I Tell a Fly. Cryptic lyrics in whiplash snippets of stage-ready melodies chitter, ramble, serenade, and roar throughout. Try Better Sorry Than a Safe [1], or the soulful Quintessence [1].

US figure skater Nathan Chen even skated to previous album track Nemesis in his short program at this year’s Nationals. [1]

This year, YouTube recommendations introduced me to Mondo Grosso’s Labyrinth (ラビリンス). Its video (shown above) features actress Hikari Mitsushima singing and dancing through a Hong Kong neighborhood. The track, according to the notes on the project website, is meant to be light, rounding a single loop. Watch the behind the scenes video too! Mondo Grosso’s 2017 album Nandodemo Atarashiku Umareru is intended as electro musician Shinichi Osawa’s 14 years in the making “challenge” to modern Japanese pop.

Time [MV] is also relaxing to watch, featuring dancers Nadia Esperanza and Taka. Actually, so many of the videos are beautiful to watch at late night, with the skateboarding through a tunnel under dark skies in Turn it Up (feat Ohashi Trio) [MV] and choreographer Koharu Sugawara’s moody forest theatrics in the UA-featuring track Wake Up to the Spring (春はトワに目覚める) [MV]. There are several songs exclusive to streaming devices– including my favorite track, Kemuri (feat. ACO), on Spotify [1] and Last.fm [1].

Of course, Shiina Ringo will inevitably show up on my list whenever she releases music. Otona no okite (The Adult Code) [1] was the theme she wrote for the J-drama Quartet, which I still need to watch.

The solo single that got me screaming was the bouncing waltz-time pop-jazz number Jinsei Wa Yume Darake/Ma Vie, Ves Rêves (人生は夢だらけ).

The Yuichi Kodama-directed video struck more of my weaknesses with not just going for a classy pastel-ification of the Technicolor musical look, but diving deeper into classic film geekiness by filming in Academy (4:3, almost square) ratio!!! I don’t care if it sounds almost like other songs of the mid-20th-century or like Ringo-chan’s work in and after Tokyo Jihen. Its slow build-up, (what I can figure are) existential yet -happy shrug- lyrics, and effervescent feeling are exactly what I want!

Too bad I could only fit a little of it on my first music mix ever, a compilation of different tracks from (and around, in the case of Soy Peor [MV]) 2017:

As for the year itself, my response comes from TLC’s comeback album:

What did you listen to in 2017?

Diandra Rodriguez

Proudly Latinasian NorCal American.

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