"Level3" is No. 1 on Japan's Oricon music chart this week, but it is not a J-pop album.

While Perfume's studio-slave producer Yasutaka Nakata has always built the trio's anthemic hits from a bedrock of carefully layered and intricately produced electronic sequencing (the very voices of Ayaka "A-chan" Nishiwaki, Ayano "Nocchi" Omoto and Yuka "Kashiyuka" Kashino processed to the micro-bit level), here he takes the music further than modern J-pop would usually go, while easing off on the vocal effects to let the women's natural voices shine through.

"It's a very different album," agrees A-chan as the four of us and their entourage sit in a featureless meeting room at a TV studio a few weeks before the album's Oct. 2 release date in Japan. (It is released today on CD in parts of Asia, with Britain, Germany, France and other parts of Europe to follow in the next couple of weeks; the album is also released digitally around the world today.)