Haru Nemuri - Shunka Ryougen

26 Apr 2022 - Daniel F.

Experimental J-Pop | Release date: 25 Apr 2022


I heard about Haru Nemuri for the first time this week as a result of a chance recommendation by a friend on Facebook. After finishing my first listen of her new record Shunka Ryougen, my bemused disbelief was such that my first instinct was to hastily start writing about it. I began jotting down adjectives such as ‘visionary’ and ‘prescient’ while hitting the repeat button and trying to fully soak in the genre-defying artistry I’d just heard. Hailing from the cultural hub of Yokohama Japan, Nemuri has embarked on a musical mission that sees her transcend boundaries both in terms of language and style.

Like an overly exuberant chef she tosses countless ingredients into a record that bursts with flavour, ingenuity and ultimately sounds different to everything else you’ll hear this year. Bubbly electronics meet harsher sounds that spill into noisy, scathing post-hardcore and a heart that beats experimental J-Pop sitting snug beneath it all. It’s a style that she has branded ‘poetry rap’ and tracks like ”Shunrai” fly along at breakneck speed with a frenetic, pop-punk-esq vigour, while others such as ”Sister With Sisters” crank up the bass and feel much more traditionally pop. Nestled within an album that impresses for over an hour, these are just two examples of the kind of creativity Nemuri so skillfully deploys.

Whether it be through traditionally Japanese inspired excerpts like ”zzz #arabesque” or angrier tracks like Who the fuck is burning the forest”, she has a unique way of storytelling. The majority of the record is in her native Japanese, yet the emotions expressed transcend language and are communicated by the stunning array of tools wielded. Be it clattering drums or jerky electronic harmonies, we are constantly indulged by a shifting soundscape that grabs us by the neck and pulls us along for a ride at breakneck speed.

Memorable and utterly mind-blowing, it is impossible to take in the gravity of an album like this at the first listen. It’s crying out for repeat visits and with tracks as stunning as the eponymous Shunka Ryougen” it really isn’t hard to justify enjoying this record over and over again. In a world so saturated by musical creators on every street corner, it is rare to see true talent combined with a genuinely incomparable approach to songwriting. Couple that with excellent execution and it’s hard to deny that Nemuri has written one of the most intelligent records of the year so far. She is a gifted musician making music that simply must be heard to believe, and sets a whole new standard in sonic expression.