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Black Stage — Black Stage
(Maboroshi MABO-005, 1996, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1999-01-01

Black Stage Cover art

This is a project featuring Keiji Haino (electric guitar, flute, harp, voice), Natsuki Kido (acoustic guitar), and Yuji Katsui (violin) that – despite its release date – was recorded live in September 1994. The latter two names should be recognized by Exposé readers from the then and current lineup of Bondage Fruit, while Keiji Haino has stellar credentials including a long string of live and studio solo albums as well as albums with his bands Fushitsusha and Vajra, and numerous collaborations – a primary mover in the Japanese new music scene. This disc is basically three long improvisations, the first two well over twenty minutes each, all fairly avant-garde workouts, with elements of jazz (mostly via Kido's Coryell-esque acoustic guitar) and chamber (Katsui's violin contribution) surfacing, and showing regular flashes of brilliance amid the stop, sputter, and go of each of these pieces. They seem to have some trouble keeping their flights airborne for any extended period of time, which becomes tiresome, though sometimes listening to the three musicians search furiously for some kind of common thread gives a rare insight into the improvisational process. Vocals on the second piece are a bit stark, tortured, and pretentious sounding, though one who understands Japanese may get more out of them than this reviewer did. The third and final track is the most together of the three, with several spirited instrumental exchanges condensed into its ten minute running time. Overall, though this tends to be pretty disjointed, difficult listening.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 16, 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Black Stage, Yuji Katsui, Natsuki Kido, Keiji Haino

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Premier of New Echo Us Video

From the press release:

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.

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“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.

“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)

As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.



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