Jan 30, 2014

Hikashu featuring Charan Po Rantan - Chakra Biraki [Chakra Opening] (2013)

Hikashu featuring Charan Po Rantan - Chakra Biraki [Chakra Opening] (2013)

1. Tengoku Wo Nozokitai [Glimpse into Heaven] 3'38"
2. Mosura No Uta [The Song of Mothra] 3'26"
3. Damekana?! [No Good?!] 4'19"
4. Chakra Biraki [Chakra Opening] 12'57"
5. Kibanda Bandana [Yellowish Bandana] 2'18"

Makigami Koichi - vocals, theremin, cornet
Mita Freeman - guitar, vocals on 3 and 5
Sakaide Masami - bass
Shimizu Kazuto - piano, keyboard, bass clarinet
Sato Masaharu - drums
Inoue Makoto - synthesizer on 2

Charan Po Rantan:
Chiharu - button accordion, vocals
Momo - vocals

Produced by Makigami Koichi
Recorded 2013 in NYC, Tokyo, Shizuoka, and Nagoya.
Recorded by Sakaide Masami, Makigami Koichi, Usui Yasuhiro, Marc Urselli on 5
Mixed by Sakaide Masami, Marc Urselli on 5
Mastered by Ono Seigen at Saidera Mastering

Released on December 25, 2013

Strange christmas song, some absurdities, and Harmolodic pop

At first sight, it looks like a special release for christmas, and that's rightly so: it's released on the holiday, and contains a christmas song.But it's more than that.

This release is remarkable for three things. First, it contains a collaboration with other artists, and that is seldom for Hikashu. They frequently play with other artists on stage, but not for recordings.

Charan Po Rantan, the collaborator, is a sisters duo consisted of Chiharu (button accordion, vocals) and Momo (vocals), formed in 2009. They are under the influence of old European music like musette, chanson, and klezmar. Their popularity has been steadily peaking since their debut. The collaboration with Hikashu started in 2010, and since then they have been performing together on stage on and off.

Secondly, this contains a recording of music from the classic Japanese monster movies which Inoue Makoto, an original member, is quite fond of (he took part in this recording as well.) This is the first time for them to release such kind of music, although the band has been playing those songs on stage from early 1980s. (Actually, some of them were recorded at that time but still remain in the can.)

And thirdly, this disc represents "absurdity" which has been one of their distinctive elements from the beginning. And this element has rarely been documented for their records as well.

1. Tengoku Wo Nozokitai [Glimpse into Heaven]
(words - Makigami Koichi, music - Nomoto Kazuhiro)

This is a new recording of their only Christmas song, originally from the "Ningen No Kao" [People's Faces] album (1988).

The presence of the Charanpo sisters on this track is quite dominant. Momo shares vocals with Makigami, but the accompanyment is mostly done by Chiharu's accordion.

Lyrically this is quite interesting. Probably this is an only christmas song in which Santa Claus is eventually killed. Very humorous.

2. Mosura No Uta [The Song of Mothra]
(words -, music - Koseki Yuji)

This is from the film called "Mothra" (1961) (wikipedia), and one of the most popular songs from the classic monster movies. The original artist is the Peanuts (wikipedia), one of the true superstars of Japanese pop in post-WWII. They also appeared in the movie as "Sho-bijin," which means "the Small Beauties."

At first, Makigami recites the introduction from the movie, then the fairies start to sing.

The lyrics is all Indonesian, probably because of exoticism (remember, the fairies are from some tropic islands). For solo order, Shimizu took first on piano, then Inoue followed on synthesizer.

3. Damekana?! [No Good?!]
(words - Mita Freeman, music - Makigami Koichi)

First of all, do not play this track too loud because its dynamics is somewhat large. You've been warned.

Anyway, structually this is a very simple song. And quite repetitious. Driven by an eerie vamp on bass guitar, Mita Freeman goes berserk with his vocal and guitar. Utterly strange and nobody could understand what it actually means. You have to take it as it is or simply discard it at all.

Actually, this is a very, very old song which could be traced as early as 1980, and this is the first recording. Mainly used for turnaround at their gigs. A representative "absurd" song of the band, along with "Shaka," a selection from the "Ningen No Kao" [People's Faces] album (1988).

4. Chakra Biraki [Chakra Opening]
(words - Makigami Koichi, music - Hikashu)

Collective improvisation. A very extended track, over 12 minutes, and the atmosphere is calm and restrained, interesting throughout. This supposedly works as an interlude.

At around 8 minutes, Makigami repeated two phrases. One is "Omae no Chakra wo aketeyaru" [Let me open your chakra], and the other is "Namae no naimama soko ni iro" [Be here without a name].

The track ends with Makigami's remark, "Zento tanan." That means "a full of difficulties ahead."

5. Kibanda Bandana [Yellowish Bandana]
(word and music - Mita Freeman)

This is a leftover from the Bankan sessions. Written by Mita Freeman and he also takes vocals. The lyrics are consisted of wordplay mostly. Once he just got the title rhyme, and developed an entire song from that.

This one is musically interesting, too. As soon as taking a listen to it, you could tell that this is apparently based on the Harmolodics concept, especially the way how the rhythm is treated. This track proves that Hikashu could be a great Prime Time ensemble if they put their mind to it.

Overall, this is a very welcoming release. "Damekana?!," [No Good?!] an old favorite, is finally materialized, and "Kidanda Bandana" [Yellowish Bandana] is simply too important to be discarded.

Available worldwide via HMV Japan.

Jan 9, 2014

The first gigs for 2014

A New Year's Greeting from Hikashu

The first gigs for 2014 have been announced and all scheduled for February.

It seems that Hikashu decided to take a rest in January. They deserved it very much - because in December last year, their workload was so high. What they did in that month were an album and a mini-album released, and two huge concerts held with a lot of guest.

Then in February, they will be back active in live circuit. In that month, there are three gigs in Tokyo. Among them, an exclusive concert at Star Pine's Cafe in Kichijoji is recommended most.

Other two gigs are interesting as well because of the line-up. The Shibuya gig is with Carmen Maki and Hara Masumi, both singers are veteran and must-see if you have a zest for post-WWII Japanese popular music. And the Ikebukuro gig is with two emerging bands which already having a strong fan base.

And in March they will tour in Kyushu and Okinawa. Especially the latter is notable - because they've never been in the island in their 36 years history. Anyway, the tour will be covered later, and here we will go into details for their February gigs.

2013 was a very good year for us Hikashu fans. Let's hope 2014 will be fruitful as well.

Hikashu appearances in February 2014

February 13 @ LaMama, Shibuya, Tokyo (with Carmen Maki and Hara Masumi)
February 15 @ Ruido K3, Ikebukuro, Tokyo (with Podo and Za-ningen)
February 20 @ Star Pine's Cafe, Kichijoji, Tokyo

poster for the Ikebukuro gig in Shibuya

February 13, 2014
"Carmen Maki, Hikashu, and Hara Masumi"
@ La Mama
Shibuya, Tokyo
other acts: Carmen Maki, Hara Masumi
open 18:30 - start 19:00
adv 3,500 yen - at door 3,800 yen

La Mama, Shibuya, Tokyo

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February 15, 2014
"Human Being Exposition at Toshima-ku"
@ Ruido K3
Ikebukuro, Tokyo
other acts: podo, Za Ningen
open 18:30 - start 19:00
adv 3,500 yen - at door 3,800 yen

Ruido K3, Ikebukuro, Tokyo

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Febaruary 20, 2014
"Hikashu 2014"
@ Star Pine's Cafe
Kichijoji, Tokyo
open 18:30 - start 19:30
adv 3,600 yen - at door 4,000 yen
venue's info
(Timeout Tokyo)

Star Pine's Cafe, Kichijoji, Tokyo

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