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Pop Ooga

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Album Review

First released on CD by Headz, then reissued by Western Vinyl as a double LP with bonus track, Pop Ooga (retitled Pop Ooga Plus for the 2009 release) is Shuta Hasunuma's poppiest and best-developed record to date. His electro-pop is cute but meaty, quiet but deep. His unassuming vocals (in Japanese) can be annoying at times — sometimes one might like him to step up to the microphone and show what he's really made of, instead of hiding behind a tone so quiet it feels like he's singing in the closet, hoping no one hears him. Still, his sketchy melodies are well suited to his fragmented and glitchy music tracks. Comparisons to Cornelius, B. Fleischmann, and Tujiko Noriko are in order, and, taken together, paint an accurate picture of Pop Ooga. Highlights are found in "Vol Struggle," "Triooo," and the two-part "The Play." The high level of sameness ruling over the album is a bit tiring, but there's no denying the clarity and skilled realization of Hasunuma's artistic project. The seven-minute bonus track "Go Pacific" is surprisingly sunny, the usual glitchy beat topped at first by acoustic guitar and a catchy whistled melody, before undergoing a playful set of deconstructions and variations. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Pop Ooga, Shuta Hasunuma
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