Takehisa Ken & Killer Bong
Some readers of this blog may be familiar with the great Tokyo duo Kirihito, and their several albums of fast-paced guitar-drum works. Kirihito has been pretty quiet lately, but guitarist Takehisa Ken has just released an interesting album on the new-ish label PowerShovel Audio called Yia Sas!, under the name Takehisa Ken & The Spectacrewz. The Spectacrewz seems to include members of various other PowerShovel acts, including Twoth, World Famous, and Killer Bong (see below).
I received a large package from PowerShovel Audio, so watch for more writeups coming about them, as they’re all pretty notable. Visit their web site for more information.
There are fourteen tracks on Yia Sas!, all instrumental for the most part. Surprisingly for a guitarist solo album, not all of the songs are guitar-focused, though there is plenty of talented playing. The opening track, “outline”, is in fact based around some very nice steel string picking, and the long closing piece, “without”, is a slow, spacious guitar work — perhaps a bit longer than it needs to be, but it’s a tranquil closer. In between, there’s a wide range of sounds. “starT” layers a slow, reverbed fuzz guitar melody over gentle picking; “king of dryer”, with Killer Bong, offer synth sounds atop a skittery beat; “kenkee’s bar” is built atop a fun bouncy beat; and the title track is one of the more eclectic, made of strange noises and what might be a music box.
Overall, this is quite a departure from the style of Kirihito, and will be a pleasant surprise to those who know Takehisa’s work from that band. Anyone should find something to like here, and while the album isn’t very cohesive it makes up for it with willful experimentation. Very well done.
Also from PowerShovel Audio, the aforementioned Killer Bong’s Tokyo Dub from earlier this year is a long journey well worth your time. The ten songs here are mostly extended and relaxed pieces that move slowly, in a drugged stupor. After an intro track of collaged sounds and voices, the title track unfolds over 11 minutes of bells, slow beats, and deep trippiness. A few songs like the superbly-titled “Training Made Little Impression On The Insect” pick up the pace, but things never get too fast or heavy. Some songs are more on the ambient side, some offer sound collages, many have slow beats, but everything is as if emanating from behind a blurry screen, or through eyes still hazy from a night of hard partying. The album closes with the 18-minute epic “Tokyo Dub Cocodake Dub”, an elaborate trip through dark shadows, sax squalls, and back-alley beats until it breaks down into simple tones for the last several minutes.