Music

Aaamyyy whips up a synth-heavy soundscape for the year 2615

by Russell Thomas

Contributing Writer

“Body,” the much-anticipated debut album from music maker Amy Furuhara, aka Aaamyyy (stylized as AAAMYYY), opens with an instrumental of tumbling beats, skittering hi-hats, wonky nighttime synth and pitch-shifted samples of a Spanish monologue — the portal of sound aims to transport the listener to a world 596 years in the future.

The album’s concept, written by Furuhara, goes like this: “It is the year 2615, β-version. The future city is overrun with conspiratorial politics and conflicts among people. In the suburbs, almost as in hiding, sits a small neuroscience research lab, into which a secret organization creeps in. What is ‘humanity,’ what is it ‘to live?’ ”

Multi-layered: Aaamyyy has collaborated with a range of Japanese musicians and vocalists.
Multi-layered: Aaamyyy has collaborated with a range of Japanese musicians and vocalists. | PHOENIX JOHNSON

But Furuhara’s future isn’t always dark: It is many things. The songs on the album reflect this with a series of stories and scenarios; the truth being buried in “Gaia” and an earnest mad scientist in “Subject J,” the idyllic memories of “Dayz” (with Monjoe of rock band Dats) and downtown drinking in “Ain’t no Tame.” Even seeing friends and sleeping in a basement bedroom with “pillows like clouds” in “Z” featuring LA’s Computer Magic. Whatever goes on, it all takes place in a conceptual futuristic world.

The interweaving stories aren’t linear, but comprise a series of parallel threads of being.

“One timeline that we’re all experiencing right now is the result of our choices we made from thousands of alternative possibilities,” Furuhara explains.

“We all make mistakes,” she continues, “and we sometimes wish we could go back in time to make different choices, but we can’t. I like these human imperfections.”

On “Z” Furuhara references watching “Ready Player One” on a flight, not only anchoring you into the normality of the album’s imagined reality — expressing just one of these thousands of timelines — but also indicating how science fiction has informed “Body.”

“I like ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and I’m a big fan of (Studio) Ghibli’s anime that includes humanity and decadent cities,” Furuhara says. “I’ve actually been inspired by these outlooks on the world lately.” She also lists “Stranger Things,” “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and “Black Mirror” as recent influences.

Watching Netflix and absorbing worlds of science fiction aside, the music-maker has been busy recently; there’s a reason that “Body” arrives with a bit of hype — and boasts the feature spots it does.

Since 2017 Furuhara has released three EPs. She’s made music for commercials, written songs for vocalist Daoko, forayed into modeling, hosted a radio show and featured as a guest vocalist for hip-hop artist Ryohu.

And, as of June 2016, Furuhara has been an official member of rock band Tempalay, adding her synthesizer skills to the lineup. The sounds on her debut give you an idea of why she was recruited.

“Body” is an odyssey of synth. Retro futurism seeps from the sounds being used; no icy digitalism, but more an analog arsenal of audio to paint pictures of a future as imagined by the musician herself.

“I love the sounds of synthesizers, especially ones such as the Prophet series, or Jupiter, Rhodes … And I used software synthesizers that simulate these vintage synths in the album,” Furuhara says. “There are countless colors of sounds but I like these vintage and nostalgic sounds very much.”

Her taste in synths summons superlative atmospheres throughout. There’s the thick low-end synth and soft flute on “Ain’t no Tame,” the woozy sounds and bubblegum bass in “Gaia,” the electropop bounce in “Poli Sci” and its stargazing gossamer synth, the nightmarish overlapping warpish piling sounds in the final stages of “Island” and then there’s the hypnotic swirls of modulated synth in the addictive single “Over My Dead Body.”

And it’s this plethora of difference that gives a variety and depth to Furuhara’s beta version of the year 2615 A.D. It’s a cliche of science fiction that the imagined world into which we’re inducted is typified by utter dystopia, and shades of everything from hedonistic abandon to governmental degradation.

Elements of this creep through “Body,” of course — lyrically speaking. The filmic concept for the album says that much. But the sound itself, much of the time, couldn’t be further from “Blade Runner”-esque grit.

For instance, the squelchy, upbeat “Subject J” with its popping synths is bright and positive and so is Furuhara’s conversational swoon of a vocal. The lyrics are a trio of voices: a laboratory announcement, the thoughts of a mad scientist and the perspective of the eponymous Subject J.

Then there’s closer “Eyes,” featuring singer and guitarist Cony Plankton. It’s an anomaly. No vintage synth. No overt connection to the rest of the album. That’s because there isn’t one; it was supposed to be a different track.

“I had no choice but to change it,” Furuhara says, citing “labels and rights and stuff.” So instead, we have “Eyes” — a track from her 2018 “Etcetra” EP.

But it works. It’s a pure, organic number to finish on, a breezy and hopeful natural idyll of a poem expressing perseverance and freedom. A direct contrast to the preceding “Over My Dead Body,” where Furuhara achingly sings “my body is nothing but helpless” and “we’re all chained to be trapped.”

Instead, on “Eyes,” she’s broken free — or at least dreams of breaking free with more tangible intent than expressed on the rest of “Body,” which swims with references to a lack of liberty, whether caused by external forces or being haunted by the past (as in “Island”).

The refrain in “Eyes” muses, “If I could fly like a sparrow,” and the song ends with two inspired lines, as if it could have originally been intended for the album anyway: “My mind’s hovering quietly in the meadows, I just open my eyes from the shadows.”

Clearly Furuhara herself thought the same thing. “I love the song ‘Eyes’ as it closes everything nicely,” she says. “A peaceful ending for this futuristic conceptual album.”

And after all the ironclad snares and thumping drum machine electronica of “Body,” after its galaxies and cybercity streets of synth, the peaceful ending, the final act of a dream realized, feels perfect. A fields-of-green finale for this sci-fi sojourn … in this timeline anyway.

“Body” by Aaamyyy is available now from Space Shower Music through iTunes.