Vinyl LP, Cassette
On her debut album, Kyoto artist and longtime proponent of ‘80s and ‘90s aesthetics, NTsKi, distills her retro influences into sultry R&B set within an experimental music framework. Title track “Orca” sets the tone with breathy vocals carefully layered into intimate, haunting hooks that bring to mind both Bjork and Aaliyah. There’s a clear UK influence in the way NTsKi meshes pop and avant-garde into seamlessly slinky tracks that slowly unfold to a glistening pure pop climax. “On Divination in Sleep,” featuring vocalist Dove, is a hypnagogic bilingual anthem later dressed in EBM chains on Orange Milk label boss Giant Claw’s closing remix, while “Lán sè” is a perfect example of a deconstructed club lullaby with dream pop appeal.
There’s a kind of soft, sleepwalking sensuality, of the sort explored in Tsai Ming-Liang movies, that permeates the album. Heart-on-sleeve nostalgia appears both in the 2018 single “1992,” a cheeky ode to one of her favorite decades, as well as on a cover of Japanese icon and Haruomi Hosono muse Miharu Koshi’s “Parallélisme”.
While devoid of an overarching narrative, Orca is the perfect soundtrack for hot, sticky summer nights—for riding your bike alone through empty streets, pining over a recent fling or enjoying the nervous rush of a budding romance.