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Left Right Arms makes a bedroom escape

by Patrick ST. Michel

Special To The Japan Times

Sleepy solitude is a frequent theme in the dream-pop songs made by Tokyo-based artist Left Right Arms. The solo artist’s first EP, self-released last year, was titled “A Sleep,” while his second EP out a few months later included delicate songs such as “Out Of Bed” and “Cocoon,” the latter of which is about cutting off from the outside world in favor of a comfy bedroom (which is where Left Right Arms creates his music). His latest offering, “Scapes,” finds the burgeoning musician crafting his finest collection yet, a warm collection of pop songs celebrating the intimacy of close quarters.

Most of the songs on “Scapes” embrace a similar, effective blueprint — the bulk of the music (guitar, keyboard, vocals) sounds slightly faint, as if the listener is eavesdropping on the artist from the next apartment over. To keep the songs focused, he anchors each with snappy drum machine beats, which keep them from getting too mushy. Opener “Casement” highlights how effective this approach can be — the woozy synths and vocals are pretty, but it’s the persistent beat that gives it a purpose. The one deviation on the album comes via “Shapes,” which sets a sample of a Kurt Vonnegut lecture about “the shapes of stories” overtop dizzying background music.

The primary approach to building songs on “Scapes” works because it drives home the bedroom intimacy of Left Right Arms. “Rest” is the most earnest cut here — it’s a fragile number where the words come across pretty clear, highlighted by sweet murmurs of waking up with the sun together, and the way its recorded makes it all the more lovely. The singing is blurrier on “In Snow,” but the way Left Right Arms’ vocals rub up against the music makes it every bit as immediate and close. That’s the quality that makes “Scapes” such a good listen — it creates its own world inside the bedroom and makes it sound like a great place to escape to.

Left Right Arms’ “Scapes” is available for download from the artist’s Bandcamp page at leftrightarms.bandcamp.com.