WE’VE thrilled to the stream of Japanese psych bands that have been melting our heads over the past few decades – Acid Mothers Temple, Ghost, Bo Ningen, Kikagaku Moyo; embraced fully and irrevocably Japanese ambient formalism, in the shape of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Chihei Hatekeyama, et al. Perhaps it’s time we drew back from the exploratory edges and wrapped our ears around some warming folk talent from Tokyo, in the shape of Yuma Abe.
He’s just dropped a first single en route to his debut album. The track’s called “Omeamo”, it’s like your favourite blanket in its strolling melody, a song to cuddle up in and … breathe. Phew. That’s better, right?
It’s got the easy roll of Mac DeMarco and, transatlantically, features none other than acid-folk hero Devendra Banhart on guitar, which he contributed transatlantically. Have a squizz at the video, below.
Roughly translating as “You Too,” the song’s title and lyrics reflect a moment of unexpected introspection amid Covid-induced quarantine.
Since 2014 Yuma has been the principal singer and songwriter for never young beach, whose take on West Coast summery pop has resulted in four albums and sold-out tours.
His first solo album is entitled Fantasia, and will be out digitally at the end of this month, with vinyl to follow in the autumn; recorded primarily at his home studio, it sees Yuma get intimate and whisper-quiet. The Tokyo native was finding the full-on stimulation of that most enthralling city wearying. “Since when did it get so loud?,” he says.
With the virus bidding us all to retreat behind our front doors, Yuma dug deep and spent a lot of time with the American Moog genius Mort Garson and kankyo ongaku – that is, Japanese ambient and environmental music.
“Without any words to speak of, they gave me strength and encouragement,” he says. “I was feeling kindness and humour through this music in ways I’d never experienced before.”
Yuma’s apartment is a shrine to vintage pop culture, and on top of a monitor sits a Godzilla figurine. One day it occurred to Yuma that a monster like him must have friends and family, too. He’d probably given up on many things. Suddenly he began to see sadness behind the vicious visage. “Maybe he’s a nice guy. I want to be nice to him,” he thought. And therein lies the basis for Fantasia: a kind record, understated, thoughtful, mellow.
“It’s a work created without a plan; a result of letting myself go with the flow,” he says.
Yuma Abe’s Fantasia will be released digitally by Thaian Records on June 30th, with Light in the Attic’s new imprint Temporal Drift following on in the autumn with a vinyl pressing; you can order yours over at Bandcamp or from
Light in the Attic, here.