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Koenjihyakkei - 2 (ni), AKA Viva Koenji! CD (album) cover

2 (NI), AKA VIVA KOENJI!

Koenjihyakkei

 

Zeuhl

4.02 | 79 ratings

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Tapfret
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Zeuhl bloom of 1990's Japan appeared explosive from my vantage point across the sea. One of the most important figures, one might even use an overblown term like "The Godfather of Japanese Zeuhl", was percussionist Tatsuya Yoshida. As the creator of Ruins, what was likely the best known Zeuhl act in the country and progenitor of the movement, Tatsuya set out on a more diverse undertaking than the 2-man act he was previously known for. The result was Koenjihyakkei. Here we find their second album which I will refer to as Viva Koenji!! since that is the part of the cover I can read, likely the most accessible Koenjihyakkei album to this point.

At risk of overusing the term, this album opens in explosive fashion. Right out of the gate Viva Koenji!! shows that the comparative diversity to Ruins does not come at the cost of energy. The similarities between the two bands are obvious and numerous. Vocally the album is preached with the administration of syllabic rhythms of an unknown, seemingly alien language; a perhaps a sort of omni-lingual Esperanto, very similar if not exactly the language used in Ruins. I have honestly not researched the actual spoken words deeply enough to know. In any case, this linguistic set comes from a larger chorus that consists of two female voices that on this album is keyboardist Aki Kubota overdubbed in recording, and three male backing vocals. It is clear that the female vocal is the intended lead, with the male vocals either harmonizing or providing background orcish grunts and chants. Later manifestations and live performances would have multiple female vox on board. Stylistically the is an obvious leaning to the operatic tonality that is the Zeuhl formula on either continent where it is semi-popularized. The vocals alternate between dominant manic sequences and the drawn out clear legatos. The compositional themes are rhythmically dynamic, but do not employ any poly-metrics. Guitars are distorted but not to metal levels. Keyboards employ the use of organ and piano sounds with the occasional moogy waveforms. The overall presentation is complex but accessible, dark but energetic, and dynamic but deliberate.

Later Koenjihyakkei would employ more Rock in Opposition style rhythmic abnormality and instrumental dissonance. That likely makes Viva Koenji!! the most accessible of their albums to this point. Therefore it is highly recommended as an entry point to Koenjihyakkei's music, and in fact, the Japanese Zeuhl scene as a whole. I also recommend as a companion to this album the live DVD Live at Doors which features a number of songs from their first four albums including Viva Koenji!! as a good transition to their more challenging albums.

A very excellent album that would be a fine addition to any prog collection. 4 stars

Tapfret | 4/5 |

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