Osamu Kitajima — Beyond the Circle
(CyberOctave COCD 2002, 1996, CD)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 1997-10-01
Japanese expatriate Kitajima has kept quite a low profile ever since his emigration to America, shrouding his hermetic career in enough mystery to drive even the most arduous collector a bit bonkers. Fellow countrymen Akira Ito and Fumio Miyashita don’t do too shabby a job of it themselves! But Kitajima is — like the even more esoteric, Tsutomu Yamashita — the last of a dying breed of Japanese rock composers, those who aren’t afraid let their Japanese culture inform their musical output. Where else will you hear instruments like koto and biwa played (yes, played, not sampled!) in a hybrid rock context in which they actually contribute to the music’s substance; not just toys to be experimented with (and raped in the process)? Kitajima’s latest music whips up a mood similar to his past albums in some respects. Themes or musical movements are eschewed in favor of a harmonious translucent blend of aqueous background texture, highlighted by the most sparse accentuating colors. Some might see it as uneventful. Admittedly, little does seem to happen. There is a peculiarly Japanese aesthetic that gives primacy to a parsimony of means, attempting to establish a serene state more by what it avoids, rather than the Western idea of continuous addition. But the main point of my dissent is the use of (not too heavy) techno beats that drive most of the pieces on the album all at roughly the same tempo, I might add. Beyond the Circle just doesn’t exude much confidence as a techno album; it’s too good! Like the No-Man project previously reviewed, the beat pollutes its surrounding environment. Oil poured into water. The sense of freedom in the music cries out for liberation from the static pulsating rhythms. The result: I can’t help but yearn to hear from Kitajima a more acoustic-centered percussion approach upon which to base his otherwise evocative compositions.
Related artist(s): Osamu Kitajima / Justin Heathcliff
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more