deeper and deeper: studio mule excavates another treasure from japan’s rich modern music history. this time spiritual leaning rhythms that come from none other then eitet-su hayashi, one of japan’s most renown taiko drummers, a percussive instrument that is deeply rooted in the mythology of japanese folklore.
with “kaze no shisha”, studio mule reissues a crucial album of his long-spanning career, that started in 1971, when hayashi joined the globally famed ondekoza group. the so called “demon drum group“ established the taiko drumming to a global audience and intensively toured around the globe between 1975 and 1981 - the year the group split.
shortly after, hayashi and some like-minded spirits formed kodo, a new drum troupe with hayashi as lead drummer. after their first live performances he left the ensemble again in order to launch his solo career, whose first output marked “kaze no shisha”, released in 1983 on the japanese subsidiary of the us record company victor.
the album’s six compositions feature hayashi on taiko drum and other percussion, famed japanese composer midori takada on marimba, cymbal and bells, shuichi chino on synthesizer, chi soungja on the traditional korean zither gayageum and the korean janggu drum as well as the singers kamur and tenko, also known as the honeymoons.
all songs have been written by eitetsu hayashi and been recorded between july and august 1983 at sunrise studio and victor aoyama studio in tokyo. it must have been an intensive time. a time, in which hayashi transformed the drumbeat of his heart into a variety sounds, melodies and rhythms, without losing the melancholic, yet demanding kaito air.
the record’s a-side starts rough and traditional with “kintonun”, a tune in which hayashi bangs the taiko stormy while charmingly dancing with chi soungja’s korean janggu drum performance. a propulsive start that slides into “cosmos” – a slow glooming melancholic trance-folk-spiritual tranquilizer, featuring hayashi playing the piano and koto, while chi soungja weeps ghostly on his gayageum zither.
a perfectly built folk drama, deeply charged with musical infinity. its followed by “kalavinka”, an industrial leaning composition, that lifts off with metal tones and meditative chanting, only to melt into a mesmerizing melodic marimba crescendo, played by midori takada. again, the myths of ancient japanese music kisses modern minimal realms and nothing seems to refer to the pure percussive genre hayashi is famed for.
the b-side opener “kaze no shisha” presents a slow growing performance by hayashi on the japanese zither koto. his nervous play transforms into a synth drone played by shuichi chino, that slowly makes space for hayashi’s tribal taiko drumming that again disappears in another wave of koto string notes.
the follow up “bakuon” launches with a supersonic transport sound and operatic singing by the honeymoons, that amalgamates with hayashi’s feverish performance on his main instrument, the taiko. every now and then strange synth sounds and disparate voices open the short composition, that abruptly ends after 2 minutes and 30 seconds. the final of “kaze no shisha” is reconciliatory.
on “seiten” hayashi creates a conversation between the taiko and mokugyo, also known as the buddhist wooden fish. they turn into some kind of call and response talk, always leaving enough space between the rhythms and tones to create a deeply spiritual psychic sphere.
an utterly captivating, keen to experiment album, full of japanese music mysticism, surprising non-linear shock-waves, repetitive minimal structures and frenziedly drumming, who in interaction introduce a less popular side of one of japan’s most prolific drum poets.
Faitiche presents a new album by Andrew Pekler: Sounds From Phantom Islands brings together ten tracks created over the last three years for the interactive website Phantom Islands - A Sonic Atlas. With his 2016 album Tristes Tropiques, Pekler created a highly unique cosmos of ethnographic sound speculations. Sounds From Phantom Islands continues and simultaneously expands this concept: finely elaborated chordal motifs float like fog over fictional maritime landscapes. A masterpiece of contemporary Exotica.
Phantom islands are islands that appeared on historical maps but never actually existed. The status of these artefacts of European colonial expansion from the 15th to the 19th century oscillates between cartographic fact and maritime fiction. Sounds From Phantom Islands interprets and presents these imaginations as a quasi-ethnographic catalog of music and synthetic field recordings. The pieces on this album are based on recordings made for Phantom Islands - A Sonic Atlas, an online interactive map developed with cultural anthropologist Stefanie Kiwi Menrath.
Originally released in 2006, Eingya by Helios aka Keith Kenniff returns in a new 2021 edition vinyl re-release, remastered by Taylor Deupree.
Beginning the album on a high with the pastoral beauty of "Bless This Morning Year," Kenniff showcases of what he does best: heartbreaking guitar and piano melodies punctuated by crumbling beats and backed by the most atmospheric synthesizer sounds this side of Eno's Apollo. The appetizing "Halving the Compass" blends subtle field recording with the kind of piano melodies so beautiful they could be compared to Virginia Astley or Harold Budd. This is followed by the album's clear highlight, "Dragonfly Across an Ancient Sky." It's an unsurpassable folk guitar piece with a decomposing percussive background and the sort of melodies that would turn evil tyrants into weeping babies. An album that could appeal as easily to fans of Nick Drake as to fans of Boards of Canada or even early AIR, this truly has something for everyone.
Raised in rural Pennsylvania, Kenniff put out Helios's 2004 debut album, Unomia, while studying percussion at Boston's Berklee College of Music. Since then, he's released six more albums as Helios, in addition to collaborating with his wife Hollie Kenniff in the shoegaze-inspired pop duo Mint Julep and composing music for films and archival use.
"A protracted sunset of an album guaranteed to see you through the longest days of summer and into the twilight of the autumn." - The Wire "A soundtrack of molasses-sweet, midsummer sunset melancholy and pastoral mellifluence." - Tinymixtapes
For a label that wasn't around long, Strata East achieved the same sort of label recognition that Impulse! or Blue Note managed to build. In other words, you knew what you were getting when you bought a record on the label, even if you didn't know the names on the outside of the cover. This is no exception. Who is Shamek Farrah? Who knows? Who cares? It's the music that's important. This is the standard spiritually intense new jazz one learns to expect from the label, soaked in some Eastern influences but always with its ear to the street. Musicians took their roles as leaders and spokesmen very seriously back then.
This very adult statement from a group of very serious men is no exception. However, what might be an average, forgettable session is rescued by the propulsive engine of Milton Suggs' bass. He adds the fire and the drive that keeps things interesting and prevents the music from wandering into a circular spiritual morass.
Tara Clerkin Trio present their self titled debut LP on Laura Lies In. Similar to that directorial effect of filming at double speed and then slowing down for playback, the record ambles with assurance, expertly paced.
Opening with a jovial cacophony before the beatific ‘in the room’ confidently relieves, washing away any unease with an innately alien familiarity.
Coming to with the padded percussive patterns of 'Helenica', taking a moment to remember where you are in this temporal smudge. The serene contemplation of 'Any of these' signals we're homeward with a dependable afterglow, a friend you don’t need to thank for a good weekend.
A record existing disconnected from the daily getyadowns, a holiday from life, optimism as resistance against mundanity, something extraordinary amongst the ordinary, positively grey.
Recorded and produced by Dominic Mitchison. Mastered by Rupert Clervaux.