After a 13-year hiatus KoenjiHyakkei is back with a thrillingly joyful album of unexpected song and extended, masterful instrumental sections that turn on a pin point, referring and redefining prog and RIO forms with honest enthusiasm, in a quintet with Tatsuya Yoshida on drumming, Sakamoto Kengo on bass, Koganemaru Kei on guitar, Yabuki Taku on keys and Komori Keiko on sax.
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Label: Skin Graft
Catalog ID: CD-GRA-128
Squidco Product Code: 26631
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Sakamoto Kengo-bass, vocals
Yoshida Tatsuya-drums, vocals
Koganemaru Kei-guitar, vocals
Keiko Komori-saxophone, clarinet
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• Show Bio for Keiko Komori
Keiko Komori: "I play the clarinet and saxophone in Tokyo. Member of KOENJI HYAKKEI and more."-Keiko Komori Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/keiko.komori.3/about?section=bio&lst=1389755694%3A100002114534175%3A1579215504)
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1. Vleztemtraiv 10:18
2. Levhorm 9:12
3. Zjindhaiq 7:32
4. Phlessttighas 6:22
5. Djebelaki Zomn 9:49
6. Palbeth Tissilaq 6:09
7. Dhorimviskha 11:47
sample the album:
"Some bands you just have to hear. Japan's Koenjihyakkei (aka Koenji Hyakkei aka Hundred Sights of Koenji) are just such a band. Headed by vocalist/composer/drummer extraordinaire Tatsuya Yoshida and emboldened by overcharged reeds, glittery keyboards and a soaring front-woman speaking in somersaulting tongues, Koenjihyakkei blend progressive rock, jazz fusion, symphonic rock and neoclassicism with the energy of hardcore punk, the volume of metal and the attitude of rockin opposition."-Skin Graft
"KoenjiHyakkei (sometimes Koenji Hyakkei) is one of many bands helmed by Japanese drummer-singer-composer Tatsuya Yoshida, and after a break of 13 years the outfit has returned with Dhorimviskha. [...] If the prospect of progressive/ symphonic/ math-rocky complexity, avant-jazzy horns, and operatic vocals delivered with the density and intensity of good hardcore, and all meticulously assembled, gives you a sweet shiver of a thrill, well then step right up to this one.
Prog rock doth endure however, and a cool twist is how a fair amount of the form's underground units (old and new) can be appealingly weird. Unsurprisingly, some of the weirdest come from Japan, and that a list of them would include the numerous activities of Tatsuya Yoshida is assured; the only question is how to rank them.
If the method is size of profile, at the top would be Ruins, a project dating from the mid-'80s with Yoshida the only constant member either in duo with a bassist (there have been four), saxophonist Ono Ryoko (Sax Ruins) or by himself (Ruins Alone), and it suffices to say that the combination of discipline, angularity, sheer power, and the unorthodox was just the sort of thing to excite both Mark Kramer (musician and owner-operator of Shimmy Disc, the label that "broke" Ruins in the US) and John Zorn (one of the duo's multiple collaborators and also a sponsor via his fertile Tzadik imprint).
Amongst other bands and projects, Yoshida has been a part of Zeni Geva (with guitarist KK Null), Acid Mothers Temple, YBO², Korekyojinn, the Swedish band Samla Mammas Manna, The Gerogerigegege, Painkiller, and Knead (with guitarist Keiji Haino), but due to his leadership role, the other group that sticks out in his biography is KoenjiHyakkei, with their first record Hundred Sights Of Koenji (a translation of the band's name, taken from a 1939 novel by Osamu Dazai) arriving in 1994, followed by Viva Koenji! in '97, Nivraymin in '01, and Angherr Shisspa in '05.
Yoshida's prog roots are easy to discern, mainly because he has no particular interest in disguising them. For one big example, both Ruins and KoenjiHyakkei utilize an invented tongue that's clearly linked to the French unit Magma and its leader Christian Vander's construction of the language Kobaïan. With this said, much of the singing on Dhorimviskha by female vocalist Ah registers as effectively wordless in a way that can alternately remind me of an opera belter's hearty throated heave, the exuberant flow of scat-jazz, and when the other members of the band join in, even a slight touch of the Swingle Singers.
The other current members of KoenjiHyakkei are bassist Sakamoto Kengo, guitarist Koganemaru Ke, saxophonist-clarinetist Komori Keiko, and keyboardist Yabuki Taku. Yoshida and Kango are indispensable to the heaviness of the sound of course, while being adept enough barrel forth and rapidly change direction when called for, and it's called for quite often across the set's seven tracks (there is an eighth vinyl-only version of album standout "Levhorm" that I haven't heard).
Naturally, Yoshida wouldn't compose a set of music for drums he himself couldn't play, but there's still a palpable feeling of the artist pushing himself (and his bandmates), which isn't the same thing as showing off or noodling tiresomely on themes swiped from European longhair music, with the punk/ metal/ math-rock punch (as you might guess, the guitar plays a big role here) blending well with recognizable elements of Soft Machine, King Crimson, early Mahavishnu Orchestra, Zappa, and the general non-pomposity of the Rock in Opposition bands.
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