It’s not uncommon for me to have crushes on inanimate objects, cartoon characters, cities, or anything which cannot be turned into an actual relationship (like a flesh and blood human). Back when I was a kid, I went to Georgia and fell so in love with the state (not that weird – I used to also run around saying I was a reincarnation of a T-Rex to my first grade class) that I told my parents I was going to marry Georgia.
Georgia is not a person. Georgia cannot give me any physical love in return. Georgia can, however, give me peaches and Forrest Gump quotations.
Fast forward to 2012 and you have a somewhat older and better traveled 20-something who now has a massive, all-consuming crush on Tokyo. This doomed love affair encompasses people who have a similar affinity for the city and Japan, especially musicians.
Cue in submerse. Around half a year ago, Rob Orme, the mastermind behind fusing Japanese pop, garage, and an onslaught of various sub-genres moved from his home country of the UK to Tokyo. Some, like myself, would say it’s one of the smartest moves he could have made.
Since the move he’s released vinyl EPs through Apollo and Project: Mooncircle. His songs are full of life, from sampling day-to-day sounds of the high-pace Tokyo lifestyle and the breath of the city, you can feel what Orme is experiencing as his music plays in your headphones.
Having been to Japan a couple of times now, I’m right there with Orme. I walking through Yoyogi Park, meandering through Shibuya, ogling the shufflers in Akihabara, and spending hours riding on the subways.
I’m not that well versed on garage music as a whole but from what I’ve heard out of this guy (young man, rather) is impressive. The female vocals are fairly common in garage from what I’ve read and heard in the past, but they’re familiar to me in all the haunting music I have in my library. One of the best examples I can think of is Myrkur’s “Why,” with its brooding, terrifying video game quality to it. Not necessarily bleepy, just the vibe of it – kind of like going into the End of the World level of Kingdom Hearts, y’know?
“Never Again” has a very different feel from a typical submerse track because it’s more of a sub-genre than a garage-centric track. This song has been a long time favorite of mine by submerse because of its depressing quality (noticing a trend here?) and of how lush it is. He really is a Midi wizard and you can hear how much time he puts into each song, even if they come off as something fairly simple. Brilliant.
Submerse started popping up on my radar after Nakata Yasutaka released “Pon Pon Pon” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Submerse remixed it on his soundcloud page and I found myself bobbing along to it and began hunting through various tumblrs trying to pick up more of his heavy-handed Japanese inspired music. I quickly discovered, however, that his darker music was equally entrancing. His “Mix About You” made me cry immediately after he opened with one of my favorite Stars of the Lid song, “A Meaningful Moment Through a Meaning(less) Process.” It’s not too often a mix tape is so well done that I listen to it over and over again, especially at night.
I realize this post is not as heavily focused on the breakdown of individual submerse songs as I typically do with other artists. This is mainly due to Orme’s extremely well-executed production style. One soundcloud comment remarked that his drums were so clean that you can eat them. Yes, it’s absolutely true. You can literally taste how beautiful each part of a submerse track is on its own, and as a full product. Delicious.
I recommend hitting up his soundcloud page (linked in the image above) and listening to more of the songs he’s put out this past year while he’s in been in Tokyo. Even if you’ve never been there, any appreciator of night walks and introspective cities will find a comrade in his music. I’m looking forward to hearing more city oriented tracks from him – he’s going to be in Tokyo for another year before heading back to the UK, and by that time, you’ll be able to hear his growth and thoughts on living abroad spread out in all of his releases.
An interview Orme did with Factmag, which is a personal favorite he’s done so far, can be found here. It’s one of the best written interviews I’ve read in a long time, and does better justice in explaining Orme’s thoughts on J-pop, garage, and what his music actually is than I ever could.
Also, for added reference, here’s a link to Myrkur’s “Why” so that you may add an older, glorious song to your night drive playlist.