Dec 29, 2011

Hikashu - Kawatteru (1996)

Hikashu - Kawatteru [Changing like Myxomycetes]

1. At the End of the 20th Century
2. Ningen No Kao [Human Faces]
3. Utaenai Uta [Unsingable Song]
4. Tengoku o Nozokitai [I Want to Grimpse the Heaven]
5. Teicho Na Omotenashi [Courteous Hospitality]
6. Pike
7. Mottainai Hanashi [A Waste of Inspiration]
8. Biro Biro
9. Chimera
10. Nihon No Egao [The Smiles of Japan and its 14 variations]

Makigami Koichi - vocal, cornet, jaw's harp
Mita Freeman - guitar
Nomoto Kazuhiro - reeds, flute
Torsten Rusch - sampler, piano
Yoshimori Makoto - synthesizers, piano, hammond organ, accordion
Sakaide Masami - bass
Niida Kozo - drums, percussions

Okura Shonosuke - otsuzumi
Isso Yukihiro - nokan, dengakubue
Yagi Michiyo - koto

The Drummers:
Kajiwara Tetsuya, Kobayashi Masayuki, Suzuki Toshiyuki, Tomita Kyoko - drums

Nagata Sachiko - marimba, percussions
Hasebe Novko - chorus
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra Bratislava conducted by Robert Stankowsky

Recorded in September-November 1996

Released in December 1996
Remaster edition released on October 10, 2011

In 1996, Hikashu added two members, the drummer Niida Kozo and the keyboardist Yoshimori Makoto. So they became a septet. It is the biggest line-up in the history of the band, and "Kawatteru" is the one and only full album the band ever released.

"Kawatteru" is sort of the best album; it is a collection of new recordings of the songs selected from the band's entire catalogue. But all the arrangements is revised and some are so radically changed it succeeded to give a refresh impression on old songs.

For example, "At the End of the 20th Century" was recorded with five drummers playing simultaneously. This recording featured a group called "the Drummers," a percussion ensemble which Niida led at that time. Their participation gave the track thunderous effect.

"Ningen No Kao" features the instruments of Hogaku, the traditional Japanese music. This version was arranged by Makigami who intended to do "punk rock with traditional Japanese music feel." The result is a unique one indeed - you cannot hear the thing like this anywhere else.

"Nihon No Egao" has some delibarate variations of its theme composed by Torsten Rusch who also did the orchestration. This track was recorded in Slovakia - Mr. Rusch went to the country with the score and two ADAT recorders, managed to record the music with the orchestra in four hours, and returned to Tokyo. Then Makigami dubbed vocals.

Actually, the arrangement is pretty complicated and very hard to sing along. Of course Makigami nailed it but even he admitted it was difficult. Anyway it turned out to be a great reinterpretation of the composition which once seemed perfect and unchangeable. The whirling sounds coming out of orchestra is so thrilling.

The album's cover and artwork features the photos of myxomycetes. According to Makigami, myxomycetes and Hikashu has some resemblances in essence. Myxomycete could be categorized both animal and plant. It is a very strange being intrinsically - so is Hikashu.

The title's meaning - in Japanese, the word "Kawatteru" has two meanings: "strange; weird; peculiar" or "to change; to be transformed; to be metamorphosed." Makigami said both the meanings applied to the band, and the word was also appropriate for the album which is the re-recordings of the older tunes.

Certainly this album is so changing and so strange. But it's beautiful too. And, as usual, the remastering by Ono Seigen improved its sound a lot. A nice addition to your sound library. Grab while it's hot.

Available worldwide via HMV Japan. here

Related Entry:
Short Clip of "20th Century" (1996) a short PV from the album
What Happened in 1996 historical background of the album

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