You may know Naoki Kenji from his work with chillout acts The Sushi Club or JP Juice (previously reviewed here at the Chillout Scene). However you may know him or even if you don’t, he is a certainly is a purveyor of finely chilled beats. Since I had reviewed JP Juice before, I wanted to make sure I let everyone know about Naoki’s next project.
I spoke with Naoki a bit over Facebook chat to ask him a couple of questions about the new release and he told me the meaning of “Shiokaze” is “salt breeze.” That title is definitely fitting since he mentioned the album was produced entirely in Porto Petro which is “a little cozy town” located off the coast of Spain in the Balearic Islands. He said he was raised near the Pacific Ocean and it had been a long time since he had been near the sea, so he wanted to produce the album there.
Shiokaze is a very well mixed album, balancing laid back beats with more uptempo dance beats. None of it felt disjointed. “Umi No Oto” was a great “chill” track featuring the beautiful vocals of Japanese vocalist SHIZU which has a bit of a trip hop intro and then glides along a gentle groove with flowing string sounds in the background. VERY relaxing. A perfect track for a chillin’ after a long night out is the darker “Hoshi” which also had “SHIZU’s” whispering vocals and were accompanied by a sultry saxophone part, a great upright bass sound, and just the right amount of scratches to keep the trip-hop feel going.
On the more uptempo dance side, “Stratos 57” has some gentle synth waves which keep the track relaxing and almost hypnotic, but there is a great beat to it with some interesting muted trumpet and bluesy keyboard throughout. I also really liked the opener called “Ki Ite Mite” which is a nice dance track, but still had a hint of the beautiful mellowness that is to follow on some of the other tracks. The bass beat is the hardest hitting on the album though, so it really gets you going.
Many thanks go out to Naoki for his time answering a few questions about himself and the music. I am already highly anticipating his next project! Shiokaze is out today on 4MPO Records with the digital version to follow in December.