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(28 min, Vital)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Person I Hate 4:43 2. Alabama Song 5:12 3. Andreas Brothers 5:43 4. It's Not Worth Being Afraid 6:12 5. Let Me Know a Song 6:16 LINEUP: Azumi Kobayashi -vocals; flute; theremin Kazuko Awoki - keyboards; mandolin Takashi Nakayama - synthesizer
Prolusion. "Sumire" is the debut outing by the Japanese project PETER ROOM.
Analysis. Peter Room is a trio (vocals; flute; theremin / keyboards; mandolin / synthesizer), though this album features also two invited musicians: on bass and drums. I'd like to note right now that the creative endeavor of this formation is so specific and unusual that it would hardly be possible to find any analogies to it wherever in the history of rock. Their electronically acoustic Avant-garde Rock in combination with the restaurant chanson sounding arrangements seems to be strange and freakish rather than crafty and exquisite. The vocal abilities of Azumi Kobayashi are the subject for a specific consideration. Her voice is absolutely unsettled and is deprived of smooth registers, sounding discordant, if not just false, throughout the program. The only vocal episodes that are acceptable for the ear are those with her whisperings. Evaluating the album's musical content, I am able to recognize its certain variety. The first track, The Person I Hate, evokes the atmosphere of a provincial bar with the announcement on the signboard: "Don't shoot the musicians, they play as well as they can". It's a primitive song with a multiply repeated refrain. Alabama Song is the famous composition by Weill/Brecht. The version that David Bowie did somewhere in the middle of the 70-s was performed in a progressively avant-garde key with hard-edged arrangements and inventive rhythm section, while in the case of Peter Room it sounds like a rehearsal in the madhouse. Andreas Brothers and It's Not Worth Being Afraid bring a sense of boredom and melancholy because of the flatness of their textures. The stylistic movement of these pieces might be defined as an electronically saturated avant-garde, with rather colorless improvisations on piano and flute. The final composition, Let Me Know a Song, is the most melodic track in the album. Its chord structure isn't as poor as those of the preceding songs, but the overall impression it brings is also rather weak and pale. There's no need in analyzing the program more profoundly because of the quite low level that the performers demonstrate throughout the recording.
Conclusion. This is a very strange program, to say the least. While often bordering on avant-garde musical forms, "Sumire" will hardly be of interest of those into progressive music.
VF: January 27, 2006
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