Tokyo Music Scene: New Releases January 2023

Tokyo Music Scene: New Releases January 2023

Your monthly dose of new music from Japan


January came and went quickly and, if the first month of the new year was anything to go by, we’ve got a tonne of great new releases to look forward to in 2023. January saw a long-awaited release from buzz-worthy solo artist Kimishima Oosora, a new EP and tour announcement from genre-bending outfit Kroi and hints of a potential new album on the way from experimental eight-piece TOKYO SHIOKOUJI. Listen the full playlist here and check out some of our favorite selections below.

Kroi – Hard Pool

Having only just finished the final show of the tour for their sophomore album Telegraph on January 8, Kroi released their new single “Hard Pool” on January 9. The lead single for their upcoming E.P. Magnet, announced at the January 8 show, the new track was released along with yet another run of national tour dates beginning in April. True to their brand, “Hard Pool” showcases Kroi’s diverse musicality, traversing jazz fusion, melodic pop and hip hop. Head to the band’s website for upcoming tourdates. 

Big Animal Theory – Angel

“Angel” comes from the new album of the anonymous producer, Big Animal Theory. The fourth full-length album since their 2019 debut, Black Despondency, the new album, Haven, features collaborations with rapper C.O.S.A., Australian artist nuum and fashion brand amni, and strikes a strong balance between introspective, spacious and ambient numbers and straighter, punchier dance tracks. “Angel” is one of the more melodic tracks on the album which the mysterious producer says they hope will be a haven for those who feel oppressed, vulnerable and alienated. 

Kimishima Oosora – 装置 (Souchi)

“装置 (Souchi)” is taken from the highly-anticipated debut album of Kimishima Oosora. Oosora is a multi-talented artist who has been composing his own music since 2014 as well as lending his skills as a songwriter and guitarist to a number of other Japanese artists. Since attracting attention with his debut 2019 EP, Oosora has gone on to perform at Fuji Rock’s Rookie a Go-Go as well as release another two EPs and a number of singles and sell out numerous shows across the country. “装置 (Souchi)” is a lush track that makes use of some skillful mixing and production from Oosora to elevate it beyond a your typical folk-pop number. 

Mori Featuring Shinichi Osawa – Yazawa

Yazawa is the first solo track from Mori, one third of hip hop trio DONGURIZU. Originally developed as a collaboration between Mori and eclectic producer Shinichi Osawa (Mondo Grosso, among many other things) for the Red Bull 64 Bars project on YouTube, the track has since been mixed, mastered and officially released as Mori’s debut single this January. Clocking in at two minutes and thirty seconds, the track sees Mori tear through 64 bars of lyrics, spurred on by the ostentatious Osawa-produced beat and if the original video is anything to go by, it seems like they had a great time making it. 

TOKYO SHIOKOUJI Featuring ermhoi – Boys, be ambitious

Instrumental eight-piece band TOKYO SHIOKOUJI are joined by Irish-Japanese artist ermhoi on their latest single “Boys, be ambitious.” Signing with Space Shower Music last year, the new track is their third in as many months, suggesting a larger release could be around the corner. Known for their typically avante-garde approach to songwriting, listeners might be surprised by the unusually straightforward nature of the track’s first minute and a half but don’t let that fool you, there are a couple of surprises in store.