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(52:45, Musea Parallele & Poseidon Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Introduction 0:22 2. Happy Lucky Goodbye 4:55 3. Song for Masochistic Blues 4:53 4. Chanconetta Tedescha 3:18 5. Lahla-Byeyebye 5:03 6. Crescent Moon Night 5:18 7. Statt Opp Krestjan Stovelkraga 1:49 8. Summer Child 3:02 9. Tiny Lights 2:25 10. The Cat Maker 3:55 11. Hyakunin-Cho 4:39 12. Tali-La 2:57 13. Buler?as on the Table 4:27 14. Merry Melancholy 5:42 LINEUP: Totoki Yukiko – lead vocals; concertina Oguma Eiji – guitar, bouzouki; backing vocals Sasaki Emi – accordion; pianica; glockenspiel; backing vocals
Prolusion. QUIKION is a Japanese band that has existed for quite some time now, steadily releasing albums since their debut CD "Escargot Bianco" from 1999. “Kaprico” is their fifth album, a dual release by Poseidon Records in Japan and Musea Parallele in France, and first became available in February 2008.
Analysis. For those unfamiliar with this outfit, the short mood piece opening this album will prove a weird experience. There's a lot of variety to the music made by Japanise artists, but even so the highly French-sounding accordion theme that kicks off this release is a surprise. The surprise isn't lessened either when the album more or less continues in this vein. What we're dealing with here is a very peculiar kind of folk music, or perhaps folk-inspired music. Many of the songs have what I associate with a typical French sound to them, without being able to define it in a more precise way than that, and this is due to how the accordion in particular is utilized. Other compositions have more exotic flavors to them; some sound Greek, one has a Middle-Eastern tinge to it, and a few seems to have influences from Scandinavian folk music. In fact one of the compositions is described as a traditional Norwegian folk tune, one of four compositions not written by the band itself. And unless I'm much mistaken there is also a track or two with some Spanish tinges to them. The accordion is a dominant instrument in general on this release, present in all songs and ever-present in many. Its role is varied, from extensive soloing to adding more subtle nuances, but it is present most of the time in these songs, in most cases, to a greater or lesser degree in an interwoven interplay with the concertina. These two somewhat similar instruments are used extensively to create dual-layered harmonies; most times with one of them in a dominating role, and the other one in a supporting. Whichever of the instruments that has the lead will switch back and forth and, on some occasions, both will be given dominating roles. The other instrument present in most compositions is the guitar, underscoring the dominating instruments quite often by supplying a basic melody or adding staccato, rhythmic patterns. On some occasions it is used to provide the main melody as well, while the accordion and concertina supply the more subtle details. Other instruments are utilized too, as seen by the line-up description, but these are not nearly as dominant on this release, though they add variety to the compositions. One more element to the songs needs mentioning though, and that is the vocals. What sets this release apart from most others I've heard are the female, Japanese, vocals in these, mostly European music-inspired, pieces. Although not to everybody's taste I would guess, for me this element made these songs quite intriguing, and gave them an exotic and odd atmosphere. When that is said, it's not intriguing enough to be brilliant though, at least not for me personally. Some songs sound a bit too like others to my ears and some of the themes explored are less appealing than others. Still, it is a fascinating and somewhat unique release, and many who think that the accordion isn't an instrument they would like to listen to might have a change of opinion after encountering this CD.
Conclusion. Fans of folk music in general and French folk music in particular might be ones who would find this album most interesting, despite the Japanese vocals. If you're looking for a folk-inspired album with a rather unique atmosphere to it, checking out this one should provide that element too, and people enjoying uplifting music might also find this CD to be a worthwhile purchase. Indeed, this is one of those rare releases where it would be advisable to check out the music on general principle, if for nothing else than to sample music of a kind previously strange to most.
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