Shin Sakiura - Dream

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If creating music was like a dream in which anything is possible, you could conjure up a combination of technically brilliant guitar playing, R&B swing, dubstep breakdowns, future bass snyths and manipulated vocals, and it would make perfect sense. If an AI or a mere amateur were to try that, it’d probably be a terrible mess, but when a talented prodigy like Shin Sakiura takes the wheel, you end up with something awesome like his 2nd album “Dream.”

Still under the age of 25 and based in Tokyo, Shin Sakiura grew up listening to UK rock, styled his guitar play on John Frusciante, learned modern production techniques from friends, and has a passion for hip-hop and R&B. All these elements come together on this record in different ways as he has the ability to pretty much do anything he wants. “Get It” and “Let Me Know” feature killer grooves in the vein of Tom Misch or Jarami that force you to nod your head, “Cruisin’” is a catchy pop song to sing along to (and an instant add to your Spotify playlist). At the same time, you get songs with gentle guitar melodies and pitched vocal samples that have those futuristic Porter Robinson vibes, and on “Flags” it’s everything unleashed as the track shifts rhythms from a dubstep lurch to a breakbeat to four on the floor while the guitars are chopped up and the drops split your ears. Throughout all the songs, the constant is his guitar, whether it’s a soothing acoustic sound, a soulful riff or a funky rhythm, and it’s interesting the way he slices and manipulates his guitar licks for each track.

At the same time, with all the different styles the album seems more like a showcase of his production abilities rather than having a greater message or consistent theme. It’s certainly not filler, but some of the tracks like “Sand” and “Can” don’t really go places, and may even benefit from a rap over the well-produced beats. The best tracks are definitely those with proper vocals (from Komei and SIRUP in this case), as they provide an emotional focus and ought to be mainstays in lounge and bar playlists. Still, everything on here is original and creative, it’s the future but it’s grounded by solid grooves. So if you’re an artist (Japanese or international), you should do whatever you can to get this guy to produce for you, and if you’re a listener, you better pay attention to whatever he does in the future. Believe the hype.

Royce Leong