There’s no real in between for Phew: she’s either a legend to you, or you’re just hearing about her. For folks such as myself, in the first category, we have reason to celebrate. For those in the latter lane, well, there’s no better time than now to get familiar, as she prepares to release a new album called New Decade on October 22.
Speaking on the project, she says: “I wanted to exclude sentimentality. With the situation at the moment, I’ve got it lucky. Last year, in particular, just being alive was kind of a lucky state of affairs. Being able to openly express how you’re feeling, in spite of all that, is a sort of privilege you have as a musician or artist, and I felt like I shouldn’t abuse it.”
On its connection to time and perception, she adds: “During the ’80s, and up until the ’90s, things progressed along a line from past to present to future, but I think that’s changed, especially since the start of the 21st century. Personally speaking, I’ve stopped being able to see a future that extends from the present.“
For those just diving in, the Japanese artist has spent a career collaborating with intriguing artists, from her work her own band, Aunt Sally, to linking up with the likes of Can, Ana da Silva, Oren Ambarchi, and Jim O’Rourke, among others.
Even for her, Phew’s latest release is a milestone: New Decade is her first album for Mute since 1992’s Our Likeness, something of a grand return.
To mark the occasion, she’s shared the project’s first single, the foreboding, complex “Into the Stream”, which she says “is like a fantasy, an unreal world.” As ever, Phew’s music moves at its own pace, sounding attached to neither the past or the present, it simply exists in its own strange, twisted netherworld.
Watch the unnerving clip below or find “Into The Stream” on your preferred streaming platform.
Phew’s new album New Decade is out on October 22 through Mute (pre-order/save). You can find her on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.