Have you ever woken up to the sound of rain on the window of a Tokyo high-rise at 3 AM? Rei Brown’s new EP will take you there…
At Majestic Journal, our “Fresh Sounds” feature aims to showcase not just the latest tracks from our favourite up-and-coming artists, but the messages behind the music. In our latest feature, we focus on Japanese singer-songwriter Rei Brown and his bittersweet EPs “Lovers I & II.”
Music can evoke memories, transporting the listener to a given time or place. The ethereal sounds of beat-maker & singer-songwriter Rei Brown (formerly known as Ray Baboon) definitely have this quality.
We and his 25,000 soundcloud followers, however, know very little about Rei. After dropping his first track in 2014, Rei ended his nearly-three-year-long hiatus with his subsequent EPs, “Lungs” (2016) and “Vetiver” (2017), plus a collaboration with Tomppabeats on “Goodbye” in the same year. And now, this week sees Rei with a brand new project.
To celebrate the much-anticipated release of Rei’s two-sided EP ‘Lovers I & II’, we’ve picked our favorites from his 12-track ode to romance and reverie. What can we glean about Rei from his new sound and narrative?
Lovers I: Real Love //
“Real Love” is nostalgic: a sentimental take on old school a capella and the fresh expectations of a young and exciting romance. Rei’s delicate backing vocal and layered harmonies are reminiscent of a doo-wop barbershop quartet - an atmospheric sound against the track’s minimalist synth chords and vibrant keys. Surprisingly upbeat for Brown, who is known for his chilled-out, lo-fi electro-jazz vibe, the EP’s mood soon shifts: The track’s opening piano sequence, a foreboding nod to Alfred Hitchcock, signals the first taste of coming themes.
Lovers I: Strange Love //
“Strange Love” and its immersive drum sequence explore the lust and fantasy of spending the night with a distant ex-lover. In reference to Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic “Dr. Strangelove” (1964), a film set amidst the escalating threat of a Cold War nuclear apocalypse, Rei draws a parallel as two lovers reach their “climax” - their growing and destructive desire for one another building, then fading, into the sleepy synth of “Hold Me.”
With “Hold Me” as an affectionate take on post-intercourse contact and conversation, in stark contrast to the primal sound and energy of “Strange Love,” Rei’s choice of song titles is a clever and subtle thread throughout his EP that tells a story on its own.
Lovers II: Chaplan Candy //
‘Chaplan Candy’ showcases Rei’s talent as a pianist, with his poignant (and ironic) opening piano solo evoking the sound of distant wedding bells – a 4-minute love letter to a former flame. A post-break up reflection of personal stagnation and withdrawal, the song balances Rei’s keys with an 8-bit beat in the close, citing the classic arcade game “Street Fighter” and Rei’s own 2016 single of the same title.
In contrast to the complex layers to Rei’s sound and prose on “Lovers I,” Rei’s choice of beat, no-frills rhyming couplets, and classical images of lost love in “Chaplan Candy” are simple, yet come together to shine as the project’s standout track.
Lovers II: A.I. //
“A.I.” (Artificial Intelligence) yields the most chilling and resonant vocal from Lovers II: a warped dream sequence examining the blurred headspace experienced in the fallout of a failed relationship. The robotic repetition of the lyric “I want a love like that” is telling, reflecting upon the irrationality and malaise that lost love can cast, as though the track is capturing one’s tendency to over-process a situation over the need to seek immediate comfort in someone new.
For a perfect (but somber) addition to your summer playlist, “Lovers I” and “Lovers II” are well worth the listen tonight (or any night).