Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
Exactly a third of the way through Japanese producer Powder’s recently released mix CD, Powder in Space, a heavily reverbed male voice asks a surprisingly existential question: “Do you want to listen to house or techno? Does it really matter what plays?” And then, after pausing presumably to take another bong rip, he adds, “Music flows to your heart.” That statement, which arrives at the center of the xylophone-laced lounge house jam “Untitled II,” handily reflects Powder’s own feelings about the purpose of music makers herself: In both interviews, as well as the album’s extensive liner notes, Momoko Shibata has said that she values flow, vibe, and patterns in the songs that comprise her sets.
Shibata used to work a stifling office job, sacrificing sleep to mix and make tracks at night. She still maintains a 9-to-5, but one with more flexible hours to allow for touring. On Powder in Space, the Nagasaki native features artists she encountered while on the road. The Sun God’s “Ancient Echoes (Tribute to Larry Heard)” pays homage to the deep house originator, while Don’t DJ’s “Southern Shore” sails along a steady groove, punctuated by the sound of seabird calls and seal grunts. On the ambient end of the spectrum, Lord of the Isles’ “Your Smile” offers a meditation for harpsichord and modular synths, while Tornado Wallace’s “Open Door (Born Inna Tent Mix)” takes the listener on a dubbed-out voyage through New Age. And “Gift,” the first new original material from Powder since the hurtling anthem “New Tribe,” burbles with the newfound hopefulness of someone who finally has the space to live out their dream.