Skip to main content
Eoin Murray
25 May 2023, 16:02

Premiere: KASAI ‘サンサ節’

Kyoto’s KASAI blends elements of Japanese folk music with footwork-inspired beats and glitching sound designs

Photo of KASAI crouching in front of a light blue metal fence. He's wearing a patterend blue shirt and has a headscarf on. He's holding a child's toy musical instrument

KASAI is next up on the CHINABOT label with his new album, ‘J/P/N’. Listen to ‘サンサ節’ below.

Twisting elements of Japanese folk music – minyo – through intricate, footwork-inspired rhythms, the Kyoto-based artist designs an irresistibly animated soundscape across these 10 tracks. His own vocals bounce gleefully off sung minyo samples, while traditional instrumental passages are stretched and woven around gleeful synth motifs. These tracks glitch, chirrup and chime; falling into step with their complex percussive patterns and playful sound designs is so much fun that, when a particularly striking vocal hook or melody emerges, the effect is disarmingly poignant. Listening through the album feels like rummaging through a crate of toys passed down through generations, where nostalgic objects meet more high-tech gadgets. It's a joy. 

Speaking about the idea behind the album, which explores the ways in which minyo music evolved and changed over time as songs were exchanged across regions of Japan, KASAI said: “Japanese folk songs were originally rooted in different regions of Japan. Minyo was spread by private networks of people. Minyo also travelled to other regions as goods were distributed through trade and other means.

“Cool voices, rhythms, breaks, and lyrics influenced other regions’ songs,” he added. “In this way, minyo influenced each other, changed its form, and was sung in many different places by many different people. I wanted to express the dynamic aspect of minyo before it was confined to the geography of a country.”

J/P/N will be released on 31st May. Pre-order it here