【roadmap】001 : capsule

Today I’m starting a new feature for favorite artists of mine with expansive, almost bewildering discographies that may seem off-putting to fledgling listeners.

Our first “roadmap” will be for the Japanese unit that revolutionized the then dying “Shibuya-kei” with their fresh, neo-modern takes on lounge and pico-pop music, then gradually migrated towards electronic club music (also revolutionizing the sound and bringing it to the mainstream in Japan).  I’m talking about capsule, Yasutaka Nakata and Toshiko Koshijima’s lovechild, formed in ’98 and formally debuting in 2001.

capsule (now stylized as “CAPSULE” but I think this looks dumb and won’t be using it) have a whopping 15 studio albums, numerous vinyl singles with exclusive alternate versions of staple songs, and a remix album to boot.  Where do even you start? Are you the type of listener who wants to observe the gradual changes in direction an artist takes over time, or would you rather dive straight into genres you’re already familiar with by an artist who does the genre justice?

Option 1 : The Shortform Shorcut
Listen To :

  • rewind BEST-1 (2012->2006)
  • rewind BEST-2 (2006->2001)

Maybe you don’t have that much time to dedicate to a full discography run through, in which case I think the safest bet would be to pick up capsule’s three best of albums. The ‘rewind BEST’ series are two well curated collections of capsule’s catalog, each disc comprising of specific times in the group’s musical sound.  BEST 1 focuses on the latter years’ electronic/club style, and BEST 2 has the earlier shibuya-kei and lounge pop tracks (the first 5 all extracted from capsule’s 2005 magnum opus “Lounge Designers Killer”).  FLASH BEST is a more varied selection that also hosts some exclusive remixes (live edits of ‘Glider’, ‘JUMPER’, and ‘FLASH BACK’, also the only place you can get a version of ‘FRUiTS CLIPPER’ with a cold ending) that are worth picking up.  These three albums are the best and strongest representations of capsule’s array of sound without delving too far into the deep cuts.

Option 2 : I Just Wanna Dance
Listen To :

  • Player
  • capsule rmx

Perhaps you’re the electronic club kid in search of your next big fix, and I definitely have the re-up you’re looking for.  2010’s ‘Player’ was released at the peak of capsule’s moment in the mainstream, and its sound definitely reflects that.  Nakata was at his best in terms of producing massive floor stompers, and 2011’s ‘WORLD OF FANTASY’ is the logical follow up, a seamless club record full of repetition, loops, and infectious one liners courtesy of Koshijima.  ‘MORE!MORE!MORE!’ is slightly more progressive, and swims in its Justice, Groove Armada and Autechre-esque influences.  Listen to that one if you’re in search of more experimental sounds.

Option 3 : Colour me pop!
Listen To :

  • Cutie Cinema Replay
  • NEXUS-2060
  • LDK lounge designers killer
  • S.F.sound furniture
  • Capsule also have an array of infectiously upbeat pop songs that are inspired by the Shibuya-Kei and French lounge styles that won’t struggle to worm their way into your head and stay firmly lodged in there! It’s almost like Nakata was a factory for perfectly poppy twee jams in the mid 2000s. “Sound Furniture”, “Lounge Designers Killer” and “FRUiTS CLIPPER” in particular must not be missed.
  • And you can skip “CAPS LOCK” in its entirety. Thank you for reading, now get on out there and buy some capsule albums! (Only their latest, “Wave Runner” is available on worldwide streaming platforms. Kind of a bummer, but to be expected after capsule’s label change.)
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