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(61 min, Poseidon & M-Parallele)
TRACK LIST: 1. Hallelujah 5:28 2. Voyage 4:41 3. The Musical Box 6:33 4. Train Song 4:07 5. Summer Time 5:08 6. TV 5:49 7. Hallelujah Live 5:18 8. Elevator 4:27 9. Far Away 4:38 10. Moon Light 5:10 11. Metamorphose 3:41 12. Morning 6:45 LINEUP: Totoki Yukiko - vocals; concertina; tambourine Sasaki Emi - accordion; glockenspiel Oguma Eiji - acoustic guitar With: Shimuzu Rei - bass Soh Shuji - drums
Prolusion. With the issue of "Hallelujah", the number of albums in the discography of Japan's QUIKION hasn't grown. The point is that this CD includes all six of the tracks from their first release, EP "Early Recordings: 1995-'97" (brought out by the Poseidon label in 2003), and five previously unavailable compositions from the same years. Their other releases are as follows: "Ramadan" (CD, 2004) and "Live in Tokyo" (DVD, 2005).
Analysis. Okay, Hallelujah Live is taken from the aforesaid DVD, and I will not forget to point you out the difference between this tune and its original version. As is already known to many, Quikion's music has nothing to do with their native ethos in this kind of art, even though the vocals are in Japanese. This unique ensemble have absorbed into their bloodstream many different East European folklore traditions, those widespread from Greece and the other Balkan countries to Sudetenland in the north of Germany (where Slavic Germans live), touching also some of Western European ones. An alternation of vocal and instrumental sections is typical of each of the first six songs, their instrumental canvases remaining diverse and interesting throughout each. Hallelujah, Bon Voyage, Fiction and TV, all find the trio widely deploying all the instruments they have in their arsenal and, therefore, are especially rich in varied interplay between acoustic guitar, accordion, glockenspiel and concertina, though the latter instrument joins the others for the most part only in the instrumental interludes. Voyager and Train Song both are mellower than any of the said four, yet are still full of inexpressible charm. It is much more important here to catch the atmosphere and make it evolve to carefully bring you into this world of beautiful summer dances. A quality that rises from the first six songs is the gentle weaving of purely acoustic textures where all the guitar parts, without exception, are done in a truly progressive mode, those of the other instruments intensifying the sensation of a wonderful airiness in this music. The presence of a drummer and bassist on Hallelujah Live has not destroyed the amazing fragility of the trio's sound. Besides, I like this tune even better than its studio version. I have no words to describe all the beauty of Totoki Yukiko's singing, but it's probably the only true virtue of any of the other bonus tracks. Each of them is still original, but is much simpler than any of the preceding ones, Eiji playing almost exclusively rhythms on his acoustic guitar. As a result, Elevator, Far Away and Metamorphose are each a groovy, danceable song with no pace changes, as also are Moon Light and Morning, save the mere fact that both are slow ballads. Quikion's unique style (which is beyond any comparisons and criticisms either) is only outlined on these five.
Conclusion. In the form of EP "Hallelujah" leaves a better impression than, well, this release. Nonetheless, I think whose who, as I do, like Quikion in general should take this CD out - at least in the event the EP is already unavailable.
VM: January 5, 2007
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