The perfect marriage of emotion and technical ability
It’s the band’s fourth time at Fuji Rock and they’ve gathered quite the crowd, a mix of not only Japanese but also plenty foreigners as well. From the first song, the crowd is engrossed. The band go from spare beautiful, acoustic passages to shredding, metal breakdowns in the course of a song and the journey there is a breathtaking. The two guitars form an inseparable whole, creating a river of flowing melody and harmony before crashing sharply over the audience’s heads with huge bursts of raging riffs. This is accompanied by Satoshi’s minimalist bass, which emphasizes parts of the rhythm with sparse playing rather than being ever-present.
The two guitarists switch between electric and acoustic throughout the set, but for me the most interesting song is when each player had one of each. The contrast in tone and texture is brought out as the two mingle together to wonderful effect. But it’s Takashi on drums who steals the show, a masterpiece of expressive, emotional jazz drumming that fills each song with driving rhythm and joyful life. I have to say it’s one of the best live drum performances I’ve ever seen. The band continue their set by creating a looping wonderland of fading guitar notes as the drums prod them on impatiently. They finally let the groove go and it becomes an unstoppable avalanche. Even as the song descends into distorted pandemonium, the groove returns harder and faster on the other side to fan’s delight.
Their second last song is the fan favourite ‘Goodbye’ which features vocals from Hirokazu, as the rest of the instruments run riot in a burst of colour, joy and movement. With numerous false finishes, each reaching a higher note, the band finally finishes to rapturous applause. The final song is another off their new album, titled ‘Silly Song’ but it’s anything but. From a mournful start, things only get gloomier with Hirokazu reciting depressing lyrics while Takaaki’s guitar sounds like the beeping of a life support machine. The melancholy does not abate, culminating in anguished guitar solo that is noise just as much as any legible notes. The final refrain sees a guest join them on stage, an African woman who carries the last sung notes as the band walks off stage.
It’s rare to see such a combination of technical proficiency and emotion in one band. But toe manage it, a reason why they’ve been invited back for this third time. I hope that a fourth time is not so far away in the future, given the reception they received.
Text by Matthew Evans, Photo by Taio Konishi
Posted on 2015.7.26 20:25
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