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(46 min, Poseidon & Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Moon Bride 3:06 2. Ramadan 6:06 3. The Cracked Harmonium 2:34 4. Die Ballade von der Hollen 2:57 5. Guessing Song 3:21 6. Cha-Ri-Ne 5:05 7. Spellbound 5: 08 8. Sirba d'Accordeon 4:04 9. The Cuckoo 3:26 10. Concertina Blues 3:03 11. Heaven Knows 5:03 12. Kondratiev's Song 2:14 All tracks: by Quikion. Produced by Quikion. LINE-UP: Oguma Eiji - acoustic guitar, bouzouki, tampura Totoki Yukiko - vocals; concertina, harmonium Sasaki Emi - accordion, piano; percussion; vocals
Prolusion. "Ramadan" is the second album by QUIKION from Japan. Their debut outing, "Hallelujah", was recorded in 1997, but was released only six years later and only in their motherland. Please have a look into the Rating Room before reading the reviews, dear readers, as there are some changes.
Analysis. Quikion performs a pleasantly amazing music, which has nothing to do with their native ethos in this kind of Art, even though the vocals are in Japanese. This unique formation as if absorbed with bloody plenty of different East-European folklore traditions, widespread from Greece and the other Balkan countries to the Sudetenland (Slavic) Germans, and some of Western European ones as well. Just look at the track list above: its language promiscuity is quite eloquent in itself. However, it would be pointless to search for any concrete nation's folk music on "Ramadan", particularly Oriental music, regardless of what the album's title may suggest. (Ramadan is a Mohammedan religious holiday, but it is well known that some of the people living on the Balkan Peninsula are Moslems.) What was only outlined on the trio's debut album has now become their unique style, which is beyond any forms of comparison save generalized ones. This is a soft and beautiful, yet, never primitive Folk Rock based on the music of some European nation that doesn't exist as such. Most of the vocal-based tracks, the gentle lullaby-like Guessing Song included, quite well fit that seemingly strange definition, as well as three of the four instrumental pieces: The Cracked Harmonium, Sirba d'Accordeon and Kondratiev's Song. A quality that rises from these is the gentle weaving of purely acoustic textures, where solos and passages of acoustic guitar are done in a truly progressive mode, and the parts of the other instruments (accordion, piano, harmonium, light mallet and metal percussions) complement the picture by their own special way. It is here much more important to catch the atmosphere and make it evolve to carefully bring you into this world of beautiful summer dances. I have no words to describe all the virtues of Totoki Yukiko's singing; it just transports me to heaven. However, each of the songs features instrumental sections, while two of them, Cha-Ri-Ne and Spellbound, are generally too atypical and complicated to be regarded differently than just progressive music of a highly unusual nature. With ever-changing eclectic interaction between solos of acoustic guitar and those of Bouzouki (sounding here much like Sitar and violin, by the way) and some other instruments, these are true centerpieces of the album and are filled with magic, which must be heard, as I don't see any way to properly describe it with words. The vocals are just killing, and their possessor, Yukiko, is undoubtedly one of the most impressive female singers appeared in recent years. The remaining track, the instrumental Concertina Blues, is the one whose origin is definite and is Gael's music.
Conclusion. There is an abyss between Quikion and any other Folk Rock-related outfit. Nevertheless, I will dare to make an assumption: if you are fond of "Esprit D'Amor" by Minimum Vital, you should like "Ramadan" as well. The music is accessible, yet, very touching, very impressive! What's most important is that the beauty in this album resides not only in its sound, but in its heart as well. Quite frankly, I have fallen in love with "Ramadan".
VM: February 21, 2005
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