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Old 03-30-2009, 06:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Slowly Goes The Night

Slowly Goes The Night

Rather than try and complete a Top 100 albums list, I decided to create a journal and simply try to review the best ones that would be high on my list, as well as any other albums I find along the way I feel deserve being reviewed. It SEEMS a much lazier way to go, but I will find it more motivating to attack it this way.

I felt 4ZZZ deserved a thread of his own, so I am breaking away to my own.

In The opening post I will be updating links to review of albums on this Journal, as well as other places, as well as showing their final score.

In the future I hope to review the bare bone favourites of my library, as well as some more obscure artists that won't be mentioned elsewhere on the site. Ask for any links to download and I will endeavour to find one for you or upload the album myself.

I rank albums on a scale of 1-10 based primarily on my own enjoyment, with other factors such as originality, length (ie does it feel too long or does it feel like its repeating), flow and talent/performance.

I am still fairly new at reviewing (Only other ones are in the other journal) so any suggestions would be helpful!

Last edited by Zarko; 02-01-2011 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Current Journal (In order of review date)
Nils Petter Molvær - Khmer - 9.2/10
Worrytrain - Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom - 6.8/10
World's End Girlfriend - Hurtbreak Wonderland - 8.0/10
友川かずき - 肉声 [Nikusei] - 7.2/10
Arcana - Arc Of The Testimony - 9.3/10
Method Of Defiance - Inamorata - 6.5/10
Last Exit - Iron Path - 9.1/10
浅川マキ - 闇のなかに置き去りにして~BLACKにGOOD LUCK - 7.1/10
Sylvain Chauveau - Le Livre Noir Du Capitalisme - 9.0/10
Rubberoom - Architechnology - 8.5/10

Truart - Volkssturm - 8.9/10
Sir - The Night I Met My Second Wife - 7.0/10
Matthew Shipp - Nu Bop - 7.9/10
Bachi Da Pietra - Non Io - 6.3/10
Little Axe - Champagne & Grit - 7.5/10
Bim Sherman - What Happened - 8.1/10
Idris Muhammad - House Of The Rising Sun - 5.9/10
Blackfilm - Blackfilm - 8.5/10
Sand Snowman - Two Way Mirror - 7.8/10
Matryoshka - Zatracenie - 5.7/10

Macelleria Mobile di Mezzanotte - Black Rubber Exotica
- 7.7/10
Mushroom's Patience - Roma,Wien. - 9.5/10
Techno Animal - The Brotherhood Of The Bomb - 8.7/10
Eivind Aarset - Électronique Noire - 8.4/10
Contemporary Noise Quintet - Pig Inside The Gentleman - 9.0/10
Heroin And Your Veins - Nausea - 8.0/10
São Paulo Underground - Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres - 7.3/10
Onra - Chinoiseries - 8.4/10
Jacaszek - Treny - 9.2/10
Stendeck - Faces - 8.6/10

Korai Öröm - 2009 - 6.8/10
Kashiwa Daisuke - Program Music I - 9.4/10
Dif Juz - Soundpool - 8.3/10

Sunday's Slave
Part I
Part II
Part III

Gig Reviews
MiniMax @ De La Catessen, 20th April 2009, Adelaide Festival of Unpopular Music

Requests
Yen Pox - New Dark Age

Compilations
Best Of Slowly Goes The Night Volume I
Best Of Slowly Goes The Night Volume II
Best Of Slowly Goes The Night Volume III
Slowly Goes The Night Alternate Takes Volume I

Last edited by Zarko; 10-08-2009 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Khmer – Nils Petter Molvær (1997)


GENRES - Jazz, Nujazz, Electronic, World

Tracks
Khmer – 4:59
Tlon – 7:53
Access/Song of Sand I – 5:51
On Stream – 5:01
Platonic Years – 6:34
Phum – 3:39
Song of Sand II – 6:12
Exit – 2:43

Well Norway just seems to be a bubble of talent at the moment… Nils Petter (Review upcoming) as well as a talented bunch including the likes of Eivind Aarset (Whom I introduced many of you to via the March Birthday competition on the general board), Trumpeter Arve Hendriksen and band Wibutee. All of these mentioned have been pushing some interesting boundaries concerning jazz and electronics especially.

Nils Petter offered up one of my favourite albums from the 90’s with the outing ‘Khmer’. Released in 1998, the album is an exploratory experimental amalgamation of raw jazz and various electronic styles, including house, dub and ambient. Molvaer’s distinctive style is beautiful throughout and offers a very interesting contrast to the back beats. The final result is a tasty morsel that should be sampled by anyone with a passing interest in jazz, nujazz, electronica, and music in general.

The title track ‘Khmer’ offer quite a bit of variety, reaching through its jazzy focus, as well as its electronic base, to some interesting world music samples. The light plucking of a string instrument, as well as the electronics and electric guitar are used to ‘symbolise’ some foreign aspects. The overall feel of the song is seemingly of Asian origin. This is most likely homage to the origin of the word ‘Khmer’, which was a civilisation near Cambodia which was most prominent in the early part of last millennium. The song is built around an Asian mood without every directly referencing so with instruments. Molvaer’s performance is stellar, initially succumbing to the sombre tone of the early parts of the song before breaking out to add his own touch and flair. It never loses its sombre nature or tone of respect.

Throughout the album Movaer displays his ability to convey different emotions though his brass instrument of choice. ‘Tlon’, starts off as a down tempo trip hop piece with Molvaer’s quiet and macabre trumpeting overlaying. Its beauty is in its ability to convey sadness and yet a sense of melancholy in the listener. As the beats increase, much like that of a beating heart, Molvaer’s speed increases along with it to an all out attack. The electronic aspects become more prominent, and yet never detract from the power of Molvaer’s trumpeting, as he pulls out some lovely ‘latinesque’ moments. There is quite an fascinating interruption to both the electronics and trumpeting as Aarset (Who was one of the back up players for the album) has a raw yet satisfying solo. As the song reaches its end, it’s almost a fight between the two styles as to who ‘owns’ the piece. It’s a lovely way to end the song.

‘Access/Song of Sand I’ immediately sets a dark approach, as the song seems deeper in pitch compared to the first two songs. Individual instruments are easier to pick out, trumpeting, drumming, guitarists, other various wind instruments, and the song truly belongs to them. Some marvellous tonal work makes this a true highlight track, as well as Aarset’s interesting and raw work. Molvaer spends a large percentage of the time adding nice depth to the piece but never truly grabs hold of the song himself. The piece is exquisite, and definitely deserves a listen.

The next track, ‘On Stream’, offers a more down tempo ‘earthy’ feeling, most akin to the title track. Molvaer’s performance is especially worthy of attention, as his slow and unrefined performance makes the piece truly memorable. He takes centre stage and the song is only better for it. It’s a hard song to describe; everything simply fits in well to add to the overall nature of the song and earthy and worldly feel. The song only gets better as it goes along.

‘Platonic Years’ continues the tempo of the previous track with the instruments; however, the piece has a great input from the electronic side of things. This makes the piece feel more spacey rather than earthy. There are quite a few nice touches here and there, such as the electric guitar picking working in conjunction with the tribal drumming. The occasional sampling of a drop falling into a body of water, and other such samples all add a nice level of depth to the song overall. For the first time on the album Molvaer’s trumpets sound distorted from the electronics, which add an interesting and nice quality to them. The songs pace picks up in the second half, making the piece even more upbeat compared to previous ones. Overall it is quite a pleasant song, and the spacey feeling offers something different to that which has been displayed on the album already, a good change in direction.

‘Phum’ is a minimalist piece on the album, consisting mainly of Molvaer’s playing and some interesting background beats. The piece is once again used to showcase Molvaer, and offers up a clean performance, riddled with interruptions from background sounds and samples, including a foreboding repetitive pair of sticks being banged together, as well as some new string aspects. The nature of the song is quite different from much of the album, as it avoids bombarding you with obvious noises and samples. Quite the dark and almost ‘scary’ track, it is definitely worth checking out in the middle of the album.

‘Song of Sand II’ is a continuation of the first SOS, and it opens with a very interesting use of glitch and Molvaer’s trumpet, almost trying to exasperate the sound of his trumpet while barely blowing any air through it. The piece is quite reminiscent of the first, for obvious reasons, but it is still a quality track. It just depends on how much you want to listen to a similar song again. The backing instruments and electronics are particularly nice and evident after a few songs without that depth. Molvaer also gets a few interesting sounds out of his trumpet, ones I wouldn’t normally expect.

‘Exit’ does what the name suggests. A nice ending to the album, it is minimal and offers just the bare minimum of what made the album special. Not entirely bombarding on the senses, it is a nice down tempo exit after the highs already experienced.

As I already mentioned, this was one of my favourite albums of the 90’s. It offers an interesting blend of jazz and electronics and world music, and was certainly a unique experience when I first listened to it. It was one of the first nujazz experiments for me and it is probably still my favourite. The group of musicians is simply brimming with talent, and deserves ample recognition for their performances.

TOTAL SCORE

9.2/10

– On Stream
- Khmer
– Song of Sand I
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Excellent review and an album that I will be checking out for sure.
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:41 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Great stuff mate. I for one am looking forward to your reviews.
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:02 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom – Worrytrain (2007)


GENRES - Neoclassical, Ambient, Electronic, Noise

Prelude For Piano And Malaria – 4:46
Celestial Police – 2:40
For Auschwitz – 3:13
Thundertrance Interlude – 3:05
Achtung, God – 3:18
Hospitalized – 1:49
Soviet Passages – 2:12
White Phosphorus Angels – 6:19
The Moth Screamed Harvest – 2:43
Saturniidae – 5:12
Cambodia (Piano Duet) – 3:45
Exorcism For Cello And Malaria – 6:54
The Trenches Choir – 8:47
Ode To Faithful Kataklysm – 2:37
End Theme – 1:48

Worrytrain is a fairly new find for me… The man behind the name, Joshua Neil Geissler, offers an experimental mix between neoclassical music, minimalism, electronics and sometimes just pure noise. Nonetheless, Fog Dance is an interesting experience. Sometimes it feels generic, yet still beautiful, and as soon as that feeling comes, it can be overtaken by a simple ‘What the **** was this bloke thinking?’ The most common instruments through the album are piano and violin, and the result is an album worth checking out.

The album opens with ‘Prelude for Piano and Malaria’ which is a haunting and echoing piece performed primarily via piano. The level of resonance creates an interesting depth. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but during production it seems the actual pitch of the song was lowered, creating a thick and distorted sound rather than a clean and sharp piano key strike. As the song progresses the echoing starts to layer upon itself, creating some fascinating tones. ‘Celestial Piece’ builds on the piano work, which is a bit cleaner, with the introduction of a string ensemble. The dark tone is still present, and comes to the fore when the repetitive string pieces are interrupted by some wind instrument of some type.

‘For Auschwitz’ is a slow and sombre piece primarily made up of strings and piano work. It instills a sentiment of menace and sadness. Whilst it is sort of a ‘generic’ piece of neoclassical work, it is nonetheless a nice piece. The strings and piano work well in unison and it is simply an enjoyable construct.

‘Thundertrance Interlude’ heralds the introduction of the electronics and noise to the album. At the beginning it is a random assortment of single notes being played on various instruments, animal noises and other such things to boggle the mind. Then it is an attack of pure white noise changed across various tones and levels. 5/6ths of the song is this altered white noise. As quickly as it comes, the heavy electronics exit the scene. However, there are still prevailing elements throughout the album, rather than pure neoclassical music. ‘Achtung, God’ begins as a normal, well done, neoclassical piece, however now the backing at various places is made primarily of synth. This becomes more prominent as heavier beats start overpowering the strings and keyboard. The menace that was prevalent in past pieces has now picked up its pace. The addition really does turn the album around from a boring, generic neoclassical album to something with a bit more flavour, and this is the real beginning of the album for me.

‘Hospitalised’ remind me of music in hospitals in movies or video games… The constant ‘calming’ influence, however it is surrounded with a rather large cloud of fear and worry. The piece seems altered purely to assist in creating this effect. It’s only a short piece, but it is quite wonderful in my opinion. ‘Soviet Passages’ is a piece with a bit more oomph in it, created by the martial folk addition of war drums to the piano and droning in the background. The drums help propel the introduction of the string ensemble far more than they could achieve on their own, however, it is another short piece. ‘White Phosphorus Angels’ is reminiscent of the opening track; to the point of thinking you had pressed ‘restart album’ or something to that degree. Like the first track, it’s nice, but it becomes more interesting at about the 2/3rds mark, when the piano exits, and is replaced with an assortment of samples, that almost seem to be calling out in pain. Distorted martial drumming enters the scene again, and makes an end to this overall weird track.

‘The Moth Screamed Harvest’ opens with quite a different tone to the rest of the album. It starts with sharp noises, as someone plucks quickly at a mandolin. In the back there is a ever foreboding drone, and these never let up. It really is a nice contrast to the rest of the album which was devoted to dulled tones and noises. ‘Saturniidae’ offers up another ominous, violent piece. Heavy drums and gongs, a well as layers of random samples create some interesting and sometimes creepy depth before there is another attack of white noise. Geissler tries to fit as much destruction into the small time period before it all suddenly cuts out… And we are left with the ‘aftermath’, a destroyed world if you will, with semblances of the previous destruction floating around the place, and the only thing remaining is the quiet and dulled notes of a key stroke.

‘Cambodia (Piano Duet)’ Brings in some new instrumentation, with some light xylophone work, and the reintroduction of gongs and various such cymbals as well as some distorted vocals to make another amazing piece… The repetitive nature of the first half helps continue the dark tone of the album, despite the higher notes. However, there is a feeling of ‘light breaking through the clouds’ with the heavenly vocals, despite being impossible to hear clearly. As more beautiful tonal and keyboard work come into play, the xylophone picks up its pace until I cuts out, leaving only the light distorted background to surround the senses.

‘Exorcism For Cello And Malaria’ offers up chaos once again, as various sounds and instruments fight for supremacy over one another. They all slowly leave until only a few remain, along with the hostile background tone. This track sets the fastest pace of the album so far, and it does remind me of the ‘idea’ of an exorcism… Chaos, noise, struggle for power, raw emotion. A similar distortion is left to that at the end of ‘Cambodia’. However, rather than calming it remains indifferent and harmful rather than optimistic.

‘The Trenches Choir’ returns to neoclassical form, with more depth. For much of it is simply a pure neoclassical form, until its broken up by screeches of noise and other such electronic samples. This continues until the piano is overpowered by the distorted samples, and only they remain in their vicious glory. The track is the longest on the album, and feels unnecessarily so, but it still has some quality piano playing. ‘Ode To Faithful Kataklysm’ is a string piece until overtaken by distorted piano playing and distorted electronics. Again, its nothing particularly new to the album, however at only 2 and a half minutes, it doesn’t feel as forced as others.

The final track, ‘End Theme’ is a simple piano piece pure to neoclassical form.

Fog Dance, My Moth Kingdom definitely was an interesting lesson. It isn’t particularly revolutionary, and doesn’t do things the best in its genre but was worth the go through… The ideas it plays on, chaos, darkness, good, evil, destruction and beauty are all fascinatingly pursued, even if it was just a personal interpretation. At times it winded on, and struggled to hold its own weight, but it persevered. Cambodia and Saturniidae are definitely the highlight tracks.

TOTAL SCORE

6.8/10

– Prelude For Piano and Malaria
- Saturniidae

Last edited by Zarko; 04-14-2009 at 03:23 AM.
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:03 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks guys... Will try to keep it interesting rather than review same ole' same ole'
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hurtbreak Wonderland – World’s End Girlfriend (2007)


GENRES – Experimental, Electronic, Ambient, Post Rock

Wandering – 1:49
Birthday Resistance – 5:23
100 Years of Choke – 13:22
Grass Ark – 10:14
Ghost Of A Horse Under The Chandelier – 7:56
The Octuple Personality And Eleven Crows – 10:32
Breath Or Castle Ballad – 3:15
Bless Yourself Bleed – 10:32
Dance For Borderline Miscanthus – 4:39
River Was Filled With Stories – 10:13

I remember buying this album the first day it was available online after experiencing ‘Dream’s End Come True’ (2002) and just KNOWING it would be one that stuck with me. Sure enough, it is probably in my top 3-4 albums that have been released in the last few years. Its just special and different over the course of the album, something new to me, and underrated in the WEG discography. This album is definitely worth a 100 MB download, if not your hard earned dosh. WEG’s name behind the scenes is Katsuhiko Maeda.

Wandering as a slow introduction to the album, just a sample of what is to come. The sounds of babies crying and someone waking up and leaving in the morning signal the ‘beginning’ of some absolute quality. The piece is simple, but is meant to be listened in conjunction with ‘Birthday Resistance’, which carries over the ensemble of violinists and brass instrumentalists. Maeda comes out to shine with his mixing and production of the piece. Random spikes, glitches and alterations riddle the ensembles, as he mixes and matches sounds and samples. The electronic beats truly are a beaut, especially in conjunction with the post rock elements. Compared to his other albums, HW is quite accessible, and this isn’t a bad thing.

The true gold begins with ‘100 Years Of Choke’. It begins with calming sounds of nature, before Maeda introduces his classical composition to the piece. The light pluck of strings on the shamisen is quite a delight, before the string pieces enter the fray. Just alone this would make an amazing album, as layer upon layer is added, more string pieces, drums, cymbals, and guitars become prominent. It’s a beautifully relaxing start. As the central violin takes stage, the electronic mixing becomes more prominent; however it is yet to disturb this peace. As the pieces reach their end on the composition, it almost becomes lonely, yet maintains its beauty. As more instruments are substituted for others, such as guitars and flutes, it never loses its exquisiteness or calming influence. The classical composition part reaches its apex at ~7 minutes, and it makes you wish you were simply outside, in nature on a sunny day with birds chirping, before the bombastic electronics enter the mix at around 8-9 minutes. The change in pace particularly doesn’t discount from the song. Instead it adds another layer of depth, as electronics and electrical guitar become the basis. It still evokes a feeling of beauty, yet one much harder to attain. The song quietens down for a moment, with only vocal samples and distortion, before it explodes once again in a blaze of glory. It’s hard to explain what goes on from there. It must be experienced, as instruments are found here and there, but never consistently easy to identify over the chaotic electronics.

‘Grass Ark’, however, is the true standout of the album. The song is an amalgamation of cutting, mixing and beautiful sampling, done to the point of perfection in my opinion. The piece begins similarly in construct to ‘100 Years’, however, Maeda’s role is much more prominent much earlier, as random sounds and samples are cut over the piano and strings. The variation and chaos this brings to naturals sounds is amazing. The composition of the piece is amazing, as nature and machine collide. The quality of performance from the instrumentalists must also be noted. Though not the most terribly difficult composition, it is done extremely well. The piece slows down at about the 5 minute mark, only to introduce some maniacal laugh and sounds, which are great… It is a piece that MUST be experienced… I know I may use that term a lot, but its hard enough to describe such an artists work without being able to reference specific parts. Perhaps because the electronic elements are less ‘interfering’ than they are in ‘100 years’ but this is the standout song from the album. It just flows naturally and delightfully.

‘Ghost Of A Horse Under The Chandelier’ is almost a childish to begin with, reminding me of young children who simply hit random keys to try and make something sound good without wondering about depth. The song is built around these sharp notes and short constructs. The song as a whole, however, loses itself a bit along the way. There are parts that simply seem unnecessary, despite how good they sound at times. ‘The Octuple Personality And Eleven Crows’ is a more classical construct, reminiscent of home and family (feet running past, small touches like that) and has some of the nicest electronic beats and distortion on the album, and Maeda isn’t afraid to drag those beats over key parts of the song. The saxophone performance is quite a nice quality coming out of nowhere after a distortion. The flute is the same deal, coming into fruition after a glitch. Parts of the song later of seem a bit odd, and don’t really fit in well, but I guess that’s what WEG is trying to achieve. The song truly experiences the most cacophonic sounds from the album, though it does feel too long and dragged out.

‘Breath or Castle Ballad’ is a nice intermission from the overly eclectic, and at just over 3 minutes offers a nice change in time needed to devote yourself to the song. ‘Bless Yourself Bleed’ is an interesting piece in that a fairly important factor of the piece is vocal sampling. The piece is haunting, especially the repeating words of some female voice, who is prominent enough to be heard, but overshadowed by other instruments in the way. This is before its all stripped away to a single instrument, a piano, which sounds like those old music boxes, that start playing when you open the top. This enhanced the chilling feeling, simply because those types of music boxes are always adjoined to horror parts in movies and games. The song is probably his most interesting on the album. It has solid depth that requires attention, and the electronics glitches are used to brilliantly halfway through the song. It flows extremely well, which was required after the last few songs which can get lost at times.

‘Dance For Borderline Miscanthus’ sets a more solemn tone with a deep string ensemble and ‘scrounging’ sounds in the background… The electronics used are darker compared to the light and high pitch ones found elsewhere on the album. Maeda uses cuts to interrupt the album, never allowing the listener to get comfortable with the song, and is intermittent with laughing samples and other noises. The most aggressive piece on the album, it works well in the 4 minutes its given.

‘River Was Filled With Stories’ is a nice send off to the album, and feels like a real ending song, rather than just another song, which is all that’s really needed to cap a stellar album.

Whilst it may not be for everyone, it is a great change of pace for both worlds. I personally loved the simple classical composition, as well as the jazzy factors present throughout various parts of the album, and Maeda has a very good ‘knack’ at mixing and knowing when to change his electronic beats. The album isn’t always perfect. Some parts drag on, and some parts are simply unnecessary, but there is enough quality in enough of the songs to give a high score. On the personal level, I simply love it, and it was quite a difficult album to review, simply because its hard to describe.

TOTAL SCORE

8.0/10

– Bless Yourself Bleed
– Grass Ark

PS I’ll try to move out of electronics as a sub genre with the next batch

Last edited by Zarko; 04-14-2009 at 03:23 AM.
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Old 03-30-2009, 05:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Put mildly, that Nils Petter Molvaer album sounds incredible judging by the videos. I'm really liking the post-rock/ambient vibe about World's End Girlfriend and Worrytrain. A real eye-opener of a thread this.

Excellent reviews, and I'll really be looking forward to some more from you.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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肉声 [Nikusei] – 友川かずき (1976)


GENRES – Folk, Acid Folk, Singer Songwriter

おじっちゃ (Ojiicha) - 4:31
冬は莫迦くへなあ (Fuyu Wa Bakakubenu) - 2:24
あめらんくゆらん (Ameran Kuyuran) - 3:36
だがつぐ (Dagazugu) - 2:48
似合った青春 (Niatta Seishun) - 3:26
歩道橋 (Hodokyo) - 6:19
春だなあ (Haru Dana) - 2:57
冷蔵庫 (Reizoko) - 0:51
木端微塵 (Koppamijin) - 3:13
トドを殺すな (Todo O Korosuna) - 2:51
ハーモニカ (Harmonica) - 4:25
ちいさな詩 (Chiisana Uta) - 3:30
石 (Ishi) - 3:11

Kazuki Tomokawa (友川かずき) began his career during the Japanese 70’s folk revival, which followed suit of the Americans bringing folk music back into the public spectrum. Tomokawa has always interested me, particularly with his singing style… Rather than sing naturally, he almost seems to try and force the vocals from deep within him, which creates a rather unique style. The closest description I can think of is Tom Waits, but Japanese. He screams his lyrics more than anything (Don’t confuse this with screamo though). Nikusei was the first album of his I found on vinyl and still the best. I must warn though, this won’t be for everyone. I will refer to the songs by their English variant just in case not everyone has Japanese characters enabled. (NOTE – My interpretation of the songs are all based on tone and pitch simply because I don’t speak Japanese. So I may be off the mark by a fair bit )

‘Ojiicha’ opens the album with a fast paced guitar riff, before Kazuki enters with his trademark vocals. The nature of his singings creates a sense of insanity and power. His singing is truly a marvel, as he seems to try and scream it, yet keeps it under some form of control. The backing guitar and drum add to the level of disorder as they seem to be doing their own thing with little regard to what Tomokawa is trying to perform. They all get lost in this aggressive little ditty, most definitely the most violent piece on the album. He really does sound like a madman in a fit of rage. The title of the song means ‘Uncle’ in English.

‘Fuyu Wa Bakakubenu’ is a more mellow yet still sad ballad, with Kazuki relying on normal vocals to produce the sound. He evokes feelings of loneliness and emptiness. The backing is fairly simple, with only a lone guitar and some light as well as some light keyboard. ‘Ameran Kuyuran’ follows on, with another quiet and solemn ballad more akin to traditional folk than his other pieces as of yet. The results are more upbeat, and its more a pleasant piece, creating an image of someone standing out over a landscape and breathing in the scenery.

‘Dagazugu’ is a return to hostile and melancholy form, with the guitar playing more violent, as well as Kazuki’s style. The chorus is introduced with some drumming, and he begins to evoke his demons from below. With each new chorus, he becomes angrier until he explodes with power and emotion. ‘Niatta Seishun’ begins as a more rock-folk piece, with the introduction of electric guitars and keyboards. The power is still present from the last track, however it is less violent and more solemn and foreboding, as he sings about lost time as we grow older. The use of electrical instruments offers a nice contrast to what has been offered so far, making this and the previous track two of my favourites from the album.

‘Hodokyo’ uses similar instrumentation to Niatta, however it is more reminiscent of classic rock blues, and Kazuki has calmed down as he belts out this beautiful but fearful ballad. He once again suggests loneliness as he calls out to something as he trudges through life. The track has a few electric guitar solos, intermittent with Kazuki performing some spoken word parts. These add to the depth of the song, making it more interesting. He gets more and more worked up and sounds like his soul is crying. Easily the best track on the album. It is pure emotion.

‘Haru Dana’ is more of a pop-folk song you would expect to hear on Japanese TV these days… It is entirely nothing special, but perhaps that’s because I have heard so many similar things. Its nice for what it is, but an entirely forgettable track overall. ‘Reizoko’ is another odd intermission which is pretty much just Kazuki speaking fast… He sounds especially nasally here. ‘Koppamijin’ is another slow ballad, a calming influence from the randomness surrounding it. The added keyboard and synth is a fairly interesting add, but nothing excessively special. It is simply a nicely constructed folk song.

‘Todo O Korosuna’ is another simply folk strumming session, Kazuki bringing back his gravelly, screaming vocals. He is screaming out in pain and anger, as someone important is destroyed or killed (Again those high school Japanese skills coming into play). He frantically searches for something to blame, but he can find no answer. ‘Harmonica’ has some interesting electric synth and distorted brass work along with the vocals and guitar. This is probably my favourite ‘calm’ song on the album, his best performance on the album as well.

‘Chiisana Uta’ is another nice piece, combining his sorrowful vocals with some more aggressive playing and pitch changes. Another strong and gloomy song, and despite being overall reminiscent to the album combined, it has some add additions, especially from some instrument I can’t identify. The final track, ‘Ishi’, ends the album on an interesting note, using synthesisers to a greater degree than found elsewhere to create a spacey sentiment as Kazuki finally seems to ‘accept’ his place. More of a spoken word song with interesting backing; it is a fantastic ending to the album.

My first foray into a Japanese folk album, it was a pretty difficult review, simply because I didn’t know what was being sung about most of the time. However, Tomokawa has such an amazing ability to transcend the language barrier and emit pure emotion through his singing. He displays such levels of melancholy, sadness and anger, that the occasional pop track doesn’t detract form the piece as a whole. Sometimes it feels all too familiar; however, this isn’t a bad thing. Hodokyo is an amazing song, as well as Harmonica and Ishi, provide their moments of brilliance.

If you think you can get over the foreign folk vocals, as well as the screaming, then it is definitely worth checking out. It might not be for everyone, but everyone SHOULD check it out. It definitely led me to some other great Japanese folk. I love it.

TOTAL SCORE

7.2/10


- Hodokyo (just click on the vid and get sent to Youtube)

Last edited by Zarko; 04-14-2009 at 03:23 AM.
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