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«虹から虹へ (La La What)»

The Japanese Hikashu (ヒカシュー) band, led by vocal artist-songwriter-poet-multiinstrumentalist Koichi Makigami, maybe one of the long-running musical outfits on our planet. Hikashu has been working steadily since 1980, releasing more than twenty albums with a rich and highly colorful sonic spectrum that encompass prog-rock, poetry and absurd texts, abstract sonic searches and free improvisation. «虹から虹へ (La La What)» was conceived during the Covid-19 pandemic while Hikashu kept its monthly performances at Tokyo’s Star Pine’s Cafe. There and at the 1714 Studio, Atami and IGO Studio Hikashu perfected 11 new songs.

Like all Hikashu albums, «虹から虹へ (La La What)» offers a wild and always surprising ride and you don’t have to be fluent in Japanese to enjoy its many wonders. The mysterious ambiance of the opening, brief «Vague Premonition (大らかな予感)» corresponds with the colorful cover manga art illustration of Imiri Sakabashira, who did few covers before for Hikashu. The title song, with the inimitable, theatrical pathos of Makigami, sounds prophetic now with its lyrics: «Fake over truth / Money over conscience / War took advantage /Defecting to my own room / LA LA WHAT…».  «Chim-pi-si and Randevous (チンピーシーとランデヴー)» with pop icon Momo (of the Charan Po Lantern duo) solidifies the theatrical, now amused spirit, with onomatopoeic games and an eerie theremin solo of Makigami.

The «The Lie of Life (人生の嘘» was inspired by Alfred Adler’s psychological theory and presents Hikashu in its most wild, free improvising form, with Makigami playing the cornet. Hikashu hosts young sax play Masayo Koketsu on the infectious pop song with steamy blues «Astral Projection around Tokyo (東京辺りで幽体離脱)». On the instrumental «Flying insect feast (Geosmin) (とび虫のごちそう)» Hikashu improvises and mimics strange and even stranger sounds of insects, who, apparently, succumb to techno beats. But soon, on «Unfortunate Blues (残念なブルース)» and «Are you dreaming? (夢見ているかい?)» Hikashu returns to its theatrical and absurdist, retro-rock mode, spicing the latter with Madness-like ska pulse.

«Straddle a Thick Rainbow (濃厚な虹を跨ぐ)» is another instrumental, free improvised piece, with Makigami playing the shakuhachi flute and vocalizing wordless sounds ranging from operatic to pixie-like ones and producing mysterious sound with the theremin. «Hidden Treasures (門外不出)» is a completely different piece, a dramatic prog-rock piece that pays its respect to King Crimson’s eighties sound with guitarist Mita Freeman and keyboardist Shimizu Kazuto solos. The last song «Born from the crotch of a tree (Last sense of humanity) (又々木の股から)» returns full-circle to the topic of the title piece and its chaotic and urgent dynamics sound as addressing the troubled state of humankind right now.

Eyal Hareuveni

Makigami Koichi (v, theremin, cor, shakuhachi, koukin, Latvian wooden tp); Mita Freeman (g, ethnic fl), Sakaide Masami (b), Shimizu Kazuto (p, synth), Sato Masaharu (dr) + Momo (Charan Po Lantern) (v), Masayo Koketsu (as)

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