I was late discovering Tujiko Noriko, but I’ve become a fan, and this new collaboration album, RATN: J, sounds like something I’m set to enjoy (as well as news of the new Disques Corde label).

In the first of a series of collaborations this summer, Tujiko Noriko teams up with Japanese breakbeat master Riow Arai (forthcoming are albums with Aoki Takamasa and Australian Lawrence English). As Arai is known for massive rhythm constructions, and also from the funky visuals used to promote the album one would expect a punkish array of driving beats backing up Tujiko’s fragile voice. But as a matter of fact, the Paris-based chanteuse is responsible for all the music, and consulted primarily Arai’s producing skills. The result is a very personal yet refined, and surprisingly wide-ranged collection of songs. After a set of similarly titled, rather unexciting opening numbers, the album gradually reveals its true beauty, and even though comparison is always tricky and better avoided, sooner or later Bjork will surely pop up in most listener’s mind. “J” marks the first release of Disques Corde, the new platform for high-quality music set up by Hara Masaaki (Soup-Disk) and Shonai Masayuki (Onsa). Watch out for more good stuff to come from here. (REALTOKYO)