Taking massive strides in her steps, Amber Bain, aka The Japanese House, has discovered her polished sound within the tracks of her Clean EP. This London based 20-year old has risen from the anonymous depths of musical experimentation and circulation via Soundcloud.
During the early days with a handful of singles released online, it was clear from the get-go that The Japanese House achieved a sound to give her one tremendous push into the airwaves of the indie scene. Her debut EP Pools to Bathe In offered promise, but was probably too much to take in for the moderate fans of the indie-electronic chill tracks. It almost seemed as if The Japanese House was teasing us with playful experimentation and instilling promise of more.
This is exactly what happened with the release of her Clean EP, facilitating a more polished and refined sound. The Japanese House successfully combines the subtleties of chillwave music and beautiful soft vocals, enhanced occasionally with electronic tampering, but with an indie soul. This four-song track listing incorporates a variety of sounds coming from synths, samplers, guitars and minimalist vocals producing an atmospherically soothing ambiance, which seems to wash all over you.
Bain recently spoke with DIY Magazine about her mysterious persona, her ambigious gender and identity, and her overall approach to song-writing, “At first, I thought it was important to make it just about music … It wasn’t obvious if I was a girl or a boy, because I had an androgynous voice”. It is true, when I first listened to The Japanese House, I made the classic mistake of believing her to be a man, but after listening to her songs and words, I understood that it didn’t truly matter. She continues: “I didn’t want the mystery to become bigger than the music… I’m not wearing a balaclava, and I’m not Daft Punk“.
The EP begins with title-track “Clean”. This spellbinding track treats the listener – the vulnerability within her layered vocals are evident throughout, but there is no need for sympathy as she confidently carries the song beautifully amongst the electronic swirls. With the addition of Bon Iver style tampering, Bain breaks down vocal borders as flexibility is needed to work harmoniously with the diverse range of the electronic sampling sound.
“Clean” flows perfectly into the following track “Cool Blue” which ensures the chilled demeanour persists and altogether strengthens itself. The freshness within her sound prevails, continuing to soothe every nook and cranny of your once tense body with the smooth guitar riffles and captivating voice. Being slightly more weighty than the previous track, “Cool Blue” allows a neater transition into the next number.
“Letter By The Water” has evident darker undertones acting as the template of the track, thereby standing out to the rest. Whilst resembling the previous tracks with a hazy yet blissful theme, the crunching guitar seizes a grittier role in the track which works in beautiful unison with Bain’s powerful and twisted vocals.
The final track entitled “Sugar Pill” again shows her ability to cross over musical boundaries to produce an environmental diverse notion of sounds. The sorrowful layered vocals combined with the haunting piano chords and distorted synths construct a sound which will remain with you long after the listen. You can’t help but feel like you have reached a premature end to your journey as the overwhelming sense of loneliness takes over.
What an stirring and intimately moving EP this truly is. I can’t wait to buy tickets to her The Japanese House’s next emotional roller-coaster. The Japanese House’s new EP Clean is out now via Dirty Hit, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Finn Brownbill