Hikaru Utada, 'Somewhere Near Marseilles'
You can always get lost inside Hikaru Utada's intricately designed, deeply felt music. But more than two decades after their teenaged debut, the brilliant J-pop artist stretches out over a side-long groove. There are more immediate tracks on the bilingual Bad Mode – Skrillex and A. G. Cook co-produced the chart-leaning "Face My Fears" and "One Last Kiss" alongside Utada, respectively – but "Somewhere Near Marseilles" takes Utada on a hypnotic disco train.
Sam Shepherd, a.k.a. Floating Points, who co-produces the 12-minute track with Utada, understands that their voice has always sounded like a future that glances past – out of time, yet ever prescient in how pop music morphs. Soft-panning bongos, 808 kick drums and funky synths glide in and out of Utada's long-distance yearning for a rendezvous somewhere between London and Paris, where their lover lives. In a way, Shepherd treats Utada like he did Pharoah Sanders' saxophone on last year's Promises – even when we depart or disintegrate their transcendent voice, it's implied in the production's undulating shape, still shimmering in awe of Hikaru Utada's presence.
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