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Kishi Bashi – 151a March 27, 2012

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
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Artist: Kishi Bashi

Album: 151a

Release: Joyful Noise, 2012

Genre: Pop

RIYD: Yeasayer, Animal Collective, Of Montreal

Kishi Bashi is K Ishibashi, the multi-instrumentalist founder of synth rock group Jupiter One and touring member of weirdo-pop group of Montreal. Like fellow loop-based live musicians Andrew Bird and Owen Pallett, Kishi Bashi’s solo music is comprised of intricate, orchestral arrangements layered under plenty of handclaps and whistling, resulting in a sound that is much fuller and more glorious than your standard DIY bedroom pop project.

On his solo material, he leans more toward the psychedelic and experimental impulses found on of Montreal’s work. However, instead of incorporating those elements into outsider lamentations and abstraction as Kevin Barnes does with his project, Ishibashi crafts them into soaring, uplifting melodies that are as thrilling to the ears as other dynamic acts like Animal Collective and Alvin Band. As such, the best tracks on 151a are those with this high level of enthusiasm, including the high-on-life “Manchester” and the playfully rejoicing “It All Began With A Burst”. What sets Kishi Bashi’s album apart from others with great singles, though, is its versatility. His gentler tracks also have their own distinct charm, and the album flows seamlessly between disparate sounds and influences. Adding himself to a list of many contemporaries, Kishi Bashi channels the spirit of Beach Boys-era Brian Wilson as he nostalgically croons in the epic ballad “I Am The Antichrist To You” and lazily hums along to his honey-soaked verses in “Wonder Woman, Wonder Me”, just before “Chester’s Burst Over The Hamptons” erupts into a raucous jam session out of the ether.

Though the aforementioned highlights are some of the best songs I’ve heard all year so far, even the other four not-as-good tracks on 151a are far more than decent. “Atticus, In The Desert” and “Beat The Bright Out Of Me” both stomp along with the same tribal, folksy sound that Yeasayer popularized on their All Hour Cymbals debut, and the intro opens the spotless album with a choir of frenzied psychedelic voices that sets the tone quite well. An impressive debut, 151a showcases an astonishing variety of sounds, all pulled off with the technical expertise and boundless creativity of a man who has grown tired of taking the backseat for far too long.

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