[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(85 min DVD, Poseidon)
TRACK LIST: 1. Toki no Mi 2. Moon & a Bride 3. Hallelujah 4. Zawa-Zawa 5. Summertime 6. Bulerias on the Table 7. Nightharp 8. Iranian Boy 9. Cha-Ri-Ne 10. Spellbound 11. Tali-la 12. Heaven Knows 13. Incomplete Polka Bonus tracks: 14. Ouma-ga Toki 15. Briolage 16. Concertina Blues LINEUP: Yukiko Totoki - vocals; concertina, harmonium; harp Emi Sasaki - accordion; percussion; violin Eiji Oguma - acoustic guitar, bouzouki Genta Kudoh - drums, congas, percussion Shu Kajiyama - fretless bass; vocals
Prolusion. Japan's QUIKION have been around since 1997, and until now it was a trio comprised of the first three musicians that you can see in the lineup above, the first two being women. This DVD, "Live in Tokyo 2005", is their third outing following their two studio albums, "Hallelujah" (1997/2003) and "Ramadan" (2004). In fact however, this release appears to be a joint production of Quikion and Lithuma Qnombus, which is a duo of bassist Shu Kajiyama and drummer Genta Kudoh.
Analysis. Only six of the sixteen compositions present on this DVD were released previously. One of these, Hallelujah, is to be found on Quikion's debut CD, while the studio counterparts of the other five, Moon Bride, Cha-Ri-Ne, Spellbound, Heaven Knows and Concertina Blues, are all located on "Ramadan". The core material is arranged of 13 concert numbers that the band presented in one of Tokyo's clubs in the evening of March 21, 2005. The footage exceeds 70 minutes in duration and is in all senses a pleasing audio-visual journey. As usual, Quikion's repertoire includes nothing that would have to do with their native musical ethos but the lyrics, which are in Japanese. Overall, this is a mixture of various West- and East European traditional folk music styles with the occasional apply of those originating from East- and Central Asia, often having a medieval and even a pagan feeling. While Quikion's traditional style is retained almost everywhere on the DVD, each of the said songs, as well as most of the others (the exceptions to be named in due time), has a quite different, more distinct and dynamic sound, which is undoubtedly thanks to the involvement of the bassist and the drummer in the performance process. Some songs are calm, some powerful, yet all are filled with living energy, well depicting the quintet's fondness for music in general and their sincere enjoyment in what they do on the scene in particular. The first number, Toki no Mi, is the most unexpected. Shu Kajiyama plays fretless bass, doing it excellently throughout the material, but here he just works wonders. Moon & a Bride is a traditional Serbian song. The historical vicinity of this Yugoslavian nation with the Turks left a mark on their (fundamentally Slavonic) folklore, though some colorings of Gypsy music can also be found here. Nonetheless, to a different degree, all eleven of the songs from the concert also remind me of those typical of both the latest creations by French ensemble Minimum Vital, "Esprit D'Amor" and "Atlas" - despite the fact that this formation don't use guitars and keyboards, and that the number of instrumental interludes in their music is lesser. I don't know whether the resemblance between Yukiko Totoki's singing and that of Sonja Nedelec is accidental, but it does really exist, reflected in a very similar approach to the construction of vocal lines, the phrase-formation and more. It is no surprise that Nightharp, the one performed without Lithuma Qnombus, turns out to be the only composition that sounds typically like Quikion. This is a touching beautiful song featuring only harp, acoustic guitar and vocals, whereas the powerful, driving instrumental Tali-la is something that the trio would've never ventured into without their new friends. Among the three bonus tracks (running 12+ minutes), the first two are brief and sound unusual even within the framework of this DVD. Ouma-ga Toki finds Yukiko singing to the accompaniment of quite diverse bass solos, and Briolage reminds me of the music of nations living in the outermost north of Russia. Concertina Blues is in the same vein as most of the songs from the concert. I don't know whether Quikion and the two gentlemen of Lithuma Qnombus will stay as one band in the future, but after seeing this DVD, I can't imagine our trio going into the future without them. They have added much fire and energy to Quikion's folk songs, besides which they've imparted a genuine Rock/Prog feeling to them. As for the DVD audio/video parameters, I've already more once noticed that it's hard to expect anything worse:-) but either good or excellent quality from the products made with the use of up-to-date modern technologies, especially if such come from highly developed countries. I'd only note that the material was shot by three cameramen and was shot very well, from different perspectives.
Conclusion. The musical world of Quikion was always unusual and attractive, but now, being presented on DVD, it has gained a really strong magnetic power. If you aren't acquainted with Quikion, but have esteem for progressive Folk Rock in general and the aforementioned creative period of Minimum Vital in particular, you could hardly feel disappointed after purchasing this DVD and adding it to your collection.
VM: June 6, 2006
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]