A longtime friend (and tourmate/merch guy) for Scott Herren (Prefuse 73, Savath & Savalas), Yusuke Hama never let on that he was actually creating music of his own until he asked Herren to do some final EQ work on his nearly-finished album. Herren was excited by what he heard, and the rest, as they say, is history. Fascinating Tininess is the debut release from Leyode (aka Hama) and singer Laurel Wells, and considering the music that Herren has doen under his various aliases, it's no surprise that he would like it.
Originally trained in classical violin and piano, Hama brings a bit of a tender sensibility to his work as Leyode, despite a fascination with slamming beats as well. With Wells, he has a rather ethereal voice to use at his disposal as well, and the result is a release that bubbles with a pop edge while also popping with crisp beats and programming. Although "Sophie" sets the stage in a rather odd way with huge blurps of wobbling bass and only hints of melody, "Irene" is where the release really gets some footing. On the track, slightly dissonant accordion melodies mix with minimal piano and crunchy beats while Wells adds some of the most poppy vocals on the entire mix.
In keeping with a theme, just about every song on the release is given a female name. At times, it gets a bit more funky (the soulful "Clementine") while at others it drops off into more spacey territory (the drifting "Dominique"). Cementing his interest in the release, Herren even makes an appearance on the track "Hassami," adding cello, guitar, and vocals in English (a rarity under his Savath & Savalas name). It makes for one of the better songs on the entire release, with lush harmonies and instrumentation that pushes it a bit higher than most of the songs on the album. Pushing things in another direction is the Leb-Laze remix of "Eilene," which pushes the beats even closer to the front of the mix while throwing in random sound samples and glitchy effects for a nice dynamic contrast to the more laid-back feel of the release as a whole. Somewhere between hip-hop and dream pop, this is a nice little debut and a great soundtrack for a sunny summer day.