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Hikashu - Ten Ten Ten CD (album) cover





4.00 | 1 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Today I am sharing a selection that I was steered to by the only review that was submitted to for any of the 14 albums by Hikashu listed on the site. That review is easily identifiable as 1 thing: very enthusiastic about the Hikashu album Kawatteru: Changing like Myxomycetes, clearly dubbing it a masterpiece. This obviously did not go unnoticed on my part. A handful of samples are available on that giant internet video service, and they were rather entertaining and/or intriguing. Thus my quest began and it is bound to be one with many trials and tribulations. It would appear that Hikashu albums are not readily available outside of Japan for prices that will potentially lead to divorce if the purchases are not somehow laundered or otherwise hidden through some other means of subterfuge. And so it is, the one reasonably attainable album at the time of this review is this 2009 release, Tententen, a release produced some 30 years after the ensemble's debut and 13 years after Kawatteru: Changing like Myxomycetes, the so vehemently endorsed selection previously mentioned.

Obviously this was not going to be a household name type listen that was going to happen without a little background research. My familiarity with Japanese progressive rock is more in the Zeuhl and less experimental side RIO/avant (yes, there is apparently such a thing). Hikashu, in respect to Tententen, lean way over into the experimental side. From what I have been able to gather, its roots were more in theater than music. The Wikipedia article on the ensemble labels vocalist Koichi Makigami's style as "pseudo-Kabuki". Which, since I don't have any real understanding of Kabuki, I should be fine since that isn't really what it is...or something. But what is readily understandable is Makigami has a very diverse, transcendent voice. From a very soft spoken-word, to Tom Waites- esque rasp, to cartoony characterizations, to chantic quavers, each phrase conveys that there is something very profound being communicated; even to those who do not understand the words.

The instruments are very broad in spectrum, from varying keyboard sounds, guitar, bass, bells, to juice harp; though in reading the site's lineup info, it appears many of these may be samples. It is clear that there are other samples within the recording. My second listen was on a short forrest hike, at the present time birds and other woodland critters are not that active, so I was pulling the headphones away to make sure what I was hearing was inside or outside the headphones. And with that revelation, so it is that particular environment is ideal for listening to Tententen. This is not "party music". A rhythmic groove is rare. Not to say absent, but rare. But despite that, this is a work that promotes presence. It promotes attention and does not seem to meander aimlessly. It is consciously constructive sound design. A unique quality in music so categorically experimental, most obviously in the vein of John Zorn.

I found enough interesting going on with Tententen that I am hooked and wish to explore further. Hopefully there will be a time in the future when more of there works are licensed in the West and they become more attainable. I would call this album essential for highly experimental RIO/Avant fans, particularly fans of the likes of Art Zoyd and John Zorn. And, of course, if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, probably avoid it. Of course, there is always that potential gateway album to that side of the music world. And Tententen is likely as good as any other in that regard. 4 stars.

Tapfret | 4/5 |


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