Every once in a while, new music fanatics like myself get our taste buds well and truly stimulated by material that comes out of nowhere from an artist that nobody has ever heard of before. Pools to Bathe In, the debut EP from the rather mysterious 19 year old Londoner Amber Bain, is the epitome of such a ceremony. The Japanese House’s ethereal and heavily treated vocals, and layered harmonies which flow through subtle synth textures, result in a captivating introduction to a distinct talent.
Signed to Dirty Hit Records, the label which also houses relative newcomers Wolf Alice and Marika Hackman, and the more established The 1975; both Matty Healy and George Daniel from the latter acted as co-producers on this EP and you can certainly recognise their sonic imprint. The atmospheric 80’s esque synths and ambient washes shadow the electronica-based melodies of the bands own earlier EP’s. Bain makes each song her own however, with vocoder-bathed warm and earthy sounds which submerge and flood the listener like waves in the ocean.
I struggle to remember the last time a debut track has struck me as emphatically as Still did when it received its first ever play as Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record in the World’ at the beginning of March (bearing a particular significance as being one of the very last artists the legendary DJ championed before leaving BBC Radio 1). The appetite for more that immediately followed, which was undeniably helped by association with Healy and Daniel, but nevertheless warranted, was nourished a month later by the double release of Pools to Bathe In and Teeth. Both tracks do no more than serve as a confirmation of Bain’s extraordinary capabilities. Pools to Bathe In is in a state of drifting consciousness throughout with its acoustic keys that sway in and out like a light sleeper and gives a silent tip of the cap towards James Blake and Imogen Heap as influences.
Teeth follows a similar pattern, and sees Bain continuing to push boundaries with her layering of vocals while accompanying them with lyrics that harbour more of the intimate and dark imagery expressed in Pools to Bathe In and Still.
Sister, her final single release before the EP, and the track that impressed me the most, is a clear display of the complexity that this exciting young artist has to offer. It starts off with an enchanting acapella provided by the signature vocoded vocals familiarised by The Japanese House’s three prior releases. The song gradually builds itself up, fusing together elements of sensual synths, electronic atmospherics and percussion, ultimately reaching a stunning climax that will leave the listener hooked. It’s only fitting that this is the last single on this delightful 4-track collection, as it reinforces the statement that The Japanese House has arrived.
Pools to Bathe In came out on April 27th via Dirty Hit and is available on limited edition pastel pink 12” vinyl.