Kenso — Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo
(King Records KICS-3080, 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-12-13
For anyone who’s never heard anything by this Japanese (mostly) instrumental five-piece led by guitarist Yoshihisa Shimizu, it can be said that they carefully walk the line between symphonic prog and jazz-rock fusion, without being either, with some serious Canterbury influence and just enough Japanese melodic hints to let the listener know that’s where they are from. But come on, everyone’s heard or maybe even seen Kenso, at Progfest or NearFest or some-fest-somewhere, right? Even though their releases are less frequent than they used to be, anyone who has followed the band since their excellent 2002 album Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis will know what to expect, they are right along that trajectory they have set for themselves, channeling superb compositions through guitar-bass-drums and dual-keyboard arrangements, busy and complex with surprises around every turn, but you’ll always know it’s Kenso. Across the eight tracks presented here, there are numerous stand-outs and surprises, as well as many that fall in line with pieces the band has done before.
One surprise this time is the inclusion of female vocals on two cuts: on “Shinjuku Kousel Nenkin Ni Sora” (otherwise known as track 2), the voice of singer Miwako Handa is wordless, and becomes like a warm expressive instrument in the otherwise instrumental mix, but on the closing track “A Song of Hope” she sings some English lyrics, written by Shimizu, that takes the piece to a whole new level. The lyrics are included in the booklet, and it would be advisable to follow along the first few plays. For the most part, these don’t sound like the typical compositions of a guitarist, as the arrangements are elaborate and the guitar only occasionally takes a lead role, but the exception to that rule is “Kou Ten Bo Setsu,” one of the album’s standouts and generally a more classically oriented guitar based piece. There’s a crunchy rocker in “Noukou Minzoku ni Tsugu!” which is eventually smoothed out by the synth arrangements opposing a harder swirly organ sound, and here again the electric guitar plays a powerful role but leaves enough room for every other player to shine. Yeah, Uchinaru Koe Ni Kaiki Seyo is a Japanese import only, and you know what that means, but it’s worth every penny.
Related artist(s): Kenso
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more