Takako Minekawa Maxi On

Everyone knows who Japan's Takako Minekawa is, whether they are aware of it or not. She is the sweet little voice that says "Playstation" at the end of their commercials. After five releases (three albums and two EPs) for Emperor Norton, she is back with her third EP, Maxi On, but something doesn't sound quite right. Known for her Kraftwerk bleeps, quirky interests (cats, calculators, cubes and clouds), and sweet-as-a-puppy vocals, Minekawa has stepped up and put out what she sees as her most melancholic effort. In a few listens it becomes evident that her mood is not as cheery as everyone usually assumes it is. This EP is moody, suspenseful and laid back, whereas some of her past work has been quite rambunctious. Also more evident is the influence of such bands as Neu! and Can, whose trademark psychedelia, obscure drum beats and overall weirdness can be heard on tracks "A Report On An Investigation" and "Picnic At Loose Rock." Joining her to help make this EP truly special is her friend and fellow future-folk-fusion-funk rocker Cornelius (aka Keigo Oyamada), who adds his special guitar talents to "Follow My Dreams." Hoping to reveal more of her personality, Minekawa has created another stunning piece of avant-garde electro pop. The only challenge left for her seems to be convincing people that her music can be as normal as apple pie. (Emperor Norton)