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Shinichi Osawa: SO2 (Rhythm Zone)

I’m a bit late to the scene when it comes to the music of Shinichi Osawa. The first thing I heard from him was “Love Will Guide You” which is the leading track on his latest full-length album. It sets the tone perfectly with an extended, shimmering intro of electro-pop that gives way to a full-on club track about halfway through. It’s an awesome track and features Chicago/NYC DJ veteran Tommie Sunshine on vocals to the best possible end. It sets the bar high, and much of SO2 holds up as it proceeds. There are a couple more traditional pop songs such as “Heart Goes Boom” (which could potentially pass as one of Towa Tei’s more synthy pop tracks) or “London (Homes Not Where You Lay Your Head),” but largely SO2 is brimming with instrumental electrohouse anthems. Osawa harnesses the power of shrill electrohouse to full effect in many of these tracks, walking the line between energizing and irritating with a variety of abrasive synth sounds, distortion and dissonance. For instance, “Technodluv” is a straight up no-nonsense techno track that consists almost entirely of snare rushes, a terrible cliche in the wrong hands, but here it’s quite lovable. All of the detail that went into “Pianoctro” is brilliant, little cut-up and reversed bits of jangly house piano riffs dropped within the context of a buzzing electro-house anthem. “Morphy” is a great take on euro-dance with its oh-so-familiar chords. Only on “Paris” does the tempo slow and allow for a moment of breathing, and by the time it rolls in (3rd to last track), the ears and feet are ready for it; the final three tracks of SO2 are a nice comedown from the dancefloor brilliance that precedes. All in all, SO2 is clearly one of the best, most solid dance music albums of at least the last ten years. It’s strong from start to finish without any disappointments — that it wasn’t on very many best of 2010 lists is a tragedy because it’s a winner through and through.

Watch/listen: Love Will Guide You

Buy it: iTunes