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Qrion reaches for softer EDM

by Patrick ST. Michel

Special To The Japan Times

Qrion “Sink” (SenSe)

There’s no shortage of electronic artists in Japan making maximalist music that centers on neck-snapping bass freakouts. Sapporo’s Qrion, though, creates songs that speak a private, softer language.

The 19-year-old producer turns vocal samples into unfamiliar streaks of sound, and where others build up a track for crowd-pleasing euphoria, she brings the track to a climax before swivelling toward a more intimate direction. Her third album, “Sink,” is the best realization of her particular sound so far; a nice escape from the monotony of her EDM (electronic dance music) contemporaries.

Many of her peers opt for minimalism, Tokyo’s Sapphire Slows and Kyoto’s Eadonmm among the more recent ones. However, their songs thrive on a sense of unease, while “Sink” radiates warmth. The title track pitter-patters forward, flanked by pitched-down vocals, everything slowly building in intensity. Instead of a chaotic drop, Qrion swaps everything out for some barely-there acoustic guitar and a sample of what sounds like a shy elfin child singing in a foreign language. It’s inviting, and allows her to build the song in a new, lithe direction. Elsewhere, she uses natural recordings to establish intimacy. “Mizu” intertwines sounds of water being splashed among its persistent beat and piano, while “End Of Summer” features sounds of the tide rolling in and snippets of conversation to drive home the nostalgic vibe she’s trying to create.

“Sink” comes with two remixes that shine a light on just how strong Qrion’s brand of bare-bones production is. Canadian artist I Am Robot and Proud’s take on “Mizu” turns the track into a poppier affair, but feels like a detour on an album that’s focused inward. More telling is the contribution from Kyoto’s Madegg. He reworks “End Of Summer,” replacing the twinkle with clattering percussion and an almost-doubled runtime. It’s a great Madegg song, but steelier than any of Qrion’s originals on “Sink” — a testament to just how developed her style of closeness has become. (Patrick St. Michel)

“Sink” by Qrion is available via the SenSe website: www.sense-sapporo.jp/release/11.