Category Archives: Japaneese Music

Yume no Fusion

Japanese Kenso was originally formed in 1974, but founding and the only consistent member to this date, Yoshihisa Shimizu departed for Kanagawa Dental College and the band went on hiatus, but reformed in 1979 to released their first self-titled vinyl in 1981.

Yoshihisa Shimizu often comes to stage in a lab coat, to reflect his daytime trade.

The style on the debut was instrumental and very inspired by early 70’s British Progressive Rock.

 

Over the next few albums Kenso’s music changed towards a more Jazz Rock inspired style, British acts like Brand X or Bruford comes to mind, but also Return to Forever and many others.

That said Kenso is far from copying anyone, they have their own sound and style and I believe you can also sense something very Japanese in their music.

 

Besides the wonderful Hiromi Uehara  (a very different story altogether). Kenso is as far as I know the most well-known Jazz Rock artist coming from Japan and for very good reason, their music is very varied and complex, touching many subgenres of (prog) Rock and Jazz fussion, mostly instrumental but never boring or one-sided.

Current lineup:

清水義央  (Yoshihisa Shimizu) Guitars

小口健一 (Kenichi Oguchi) Keyboards

光田健一 (Kenichi Mitsuda) Keyboads

三枝俊治 (Shunji Saegusa) Bass

小森啓資 (Keisuke Komori)Drums

 

 

Kenso have made 10 studio albums, the latest in 2014, and a serie of live albums. They are also featured with 5 tracks on “Live at Progfest-2000” DVD released by Musea.

Kenso played NEARfest 2005

 

 

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Akuma Kogure – Evil spirit of japanese glam metal

Demon Kakka (デーモン閣下) previously known as Demon Kogure (デーモン小暮閣)Is an Akuma, an evil kami (spirit) masquerading in the human realm. Born 98,038 years before Western civilizations calendar began, in Downtown Jigoku, a realm reserved for humans who are brought here and punished for disobeying the rules of Makai, a place of terror and suffering for humans, a place of merrymaking and joviality for Akuma’s.

As Demon Kogure

In the Human world he is Japanese musician, singer, songwriter, actor, author, television/radio personality, music and stage producer, motion picture and music video director, critic, etc.

As Demon Kogure

He was the frontman of the heavy metal band Seikima-II from 1982–1999, his solo music is very varied, ranging from pop to metal, often with a clear japanese flavor. He is known to always work entirely in character.

With Seikima-II

Demon has released 12 albums with Seikima-II, 9 solo albums under various names, 5 VHS/DVD’s, appeared in video games, made game music, was the voiceover for The Joker (Jack Nicholson) in Japanese version of Batman, and have made guest performances on a series of albums. In 1994 Demon appeared on Larry King Live, becoming the first Japanese musician to do so.

As Demon Kakka

Rin’

Rin’ was a Japanese female trio, created by three graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 2003. They performed a groundbreaking combination of J-pop style songs, with the use of traditional Japanese instruments.

With their music and expression they connect the traditions and aesthetic of the old Japan, with the Modern Japanese pop culture. Rin’ was :
Chie – 新井智恵 (Chie Arai) and Mana – 吉永真奈 (Mana Yoshinaga) koto, sangen, and jushichi-gen, Tomoca – 長須与佳 (Tomoca Nagasu) biwa and shakuhachi.

They have released four singles and several albums.Most notably Inland Sea released in both the U.S. and in Europe 2006. Their songs have been used as themes for anime and movies. According to the band’s website in 2009 Rin’ put an end to their activities and decided to disband.

Koenji hyakkei – Hundred Sights of Koenji , Japan Part 4

Koenji hyakkei (高円寺百景), was a Japanese avant-garde band, debuting in 1994. Koenji hyakkei translates into “Hundred Sights of Koenji”, what is also the title on the debut album. Koenji being an area in Tokyo, with a young population and a lot of small “live music house” hosting a crowded live music scene. Koenji is known to be the birthplace of Japanese Punk.

Im not sure, but I can’t help thinking that the title is a reference to the popular series of woodblock prints, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (名所江戸百景 Meisho Edo Hyakkei ), published in 1856–59. The album cover also features (what seems to be ?) a woodblock print. Edo ( 江戸) was until 1868 the name for Tokyo.

One of the sights of Edo
100_views_edo_044

Headed by the super talented drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, Koenji hyakkei is an offshoot of Japanese cult duo RUINS.

“Hundred Sights of Koenji” is a really dense blast, complex and extremely intense, if you are ready for some totally insane, high speed avant-garde, this is what you have been waiting for. If you prefer relative easy going melodic music, you should skip this one, and move to another post !
Koenji hyakkei clearly has inspiration from French “zeuhl” pioneers “Magma”, but even more extreme, sort of Jazz/heavy rock fusion, on amphetamine, topped by vocals, shouted and chanted in a fictive language, another reference to Magma. This is the direct opposite of easy listening, hard to cope the first 3-4 time you give it a go, but in there somewhere, is hidden moments of true brilliance, and the whole pack of madness is wrapped in wonderful musicality and technical virtuosity.

Japan part.3

Kitaro – Ku-Kai – Japan Part 3

Kitaro – part 2
Kitaro started his solo career in 1977 and became a pioneer in what was to become known as, the New Age movement. Kitaro’s music for “The Silk Road”, an NHK documentary series from the 80’s, was sold in millions and created huge international attention.
Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai is a series of albums inspired by the classic Buddhist pilgrimage “The Shikoku Pilgrimage” (四国遍路) of 88 temples on the island of Shikoku – associated with Kūkai (空海), 774 – 835, a Japanese monk, kalligrapher and engineer. Among the many achievements attributed to him is the invention of the kana, with which in combination with Chinese characters (kanji), the Japanese language is written to this day.

Temple bell

Every track on the 4 volumes of Sacred Journey Of Ku-Kai contains samples from ancient Japanese temple bells (Peace Bells) from the 88 sacred temples.

Japan part 2
Japan part 4

Far East Family Band – Japan Part 2.

Kitaro – part 1
Far East Family Band (jap.: ファー・イースト・ファミリー・バンド, pronounced : Fā Īsuto Famirī Bando )

Kitaro (喜多郎) was born February 4, 1953 in Toyohashi (豊橋市) Aichi Prefecture, Japan, as Masanori Takahashi. His nickname Kitaro was given to him by friends.
In the early ’70s he joined the legendary Psychedelic/Space Rock band “Far East Family Band”, playing keyboards. On the Debut “the Cave Down To Earth” they play a wonderful space rock not unlike Pink Floyd, with ethnic Asian/Japanese elements, creating a very unique sound, an overlooked pearl of very high standarts. “Far easy family band” is highly regarded in the progressive rock community, but is basically unknown to the rest of the music world. Even in Japan, I could not get their records in normal record shops, and I have tried in a few.

Japan Part 1
Japan part 3

Hibari – Japan Part I.

Now I would like to take a look at some Japanese artists, from different styles of music .

Hibari Misora (美空 ひばりMay 29, 1937 – June 24, 1989, was an Iconic Japanese, singer and actress from Yokohama. Massively productive, she had her recording debut at the age of 12 and recorded more than 1,200 songs, and sold more than 80 million records, on top of that she appeared in 166 films.
Posthumously the first woman to receive the People’s Honour Award , for giving the public hope and encouragement. Her stage name literally means “lark of the beautiful sky”—fitting for a woman who was able to lift the collective spirits of the nation, after the horrors of world war II.

Futari_no_hitomi_poster
Japaneese Movie poster

She recorded in different styles, but in her later years, focused on the traditional Japanese enka. Enka (演歌?) is a popular Japanese music genre considered to resemble traditional Japanese music stylistically. Could say it is the Japanese form of traditional ballad.

“Kawa no nagare no yo ni” (above) was in a 1997 NHK poll (the public service media in Japan), voted greatest Japanese song of all time, with 17 million respondents.

Japan Part 2