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Quikion - 2009 - "Escargot Bianco"

(45:13, Musea & Poseidon Records)

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Escargot Bianco 3:58 	
2.  Lapis Lazuli 5:32 	
3.  Incomplete Polka 6:12 	
4.  Duga 3:27 	
5.  Caravan Song 5:00	
6.  Da-Da-Da 5:05	
7.  Hushabye 5:48	
8.  Full Course 4:00	
9.  Incomplete Polka Live 6:11


Totoki Yukiko – vocals; concertina; glockenspiel
Sasaki Emi – accordion; glockenspiel; pianica
Oguma Eiji – guitars 
Takamori Ikuya – bass (5, 7, 9)
Kudo Genta – percussion (9)

Prolusion. QUIKION is a Japanese outfit that started out in the ‘90s. Their first official release was the 4-track EP in 1999, and since then one more EP and three full length CDs have appeared. Early in 2009 Poseidon and Musea Paralelle Records reissued “Escargot Bianco”, adding 5 tracks to expand the EP to full album length.

Analysis. Those who are familiar with this outfit and like their musical endeavors will be highly pleased to know about this re-release of their first official production. First and foremost because the original is pretty hard to track down these days, but also due to the bonus tracks this edition sports: Of the five extra pieces, four are previously unreleased works and three of those were recorded again prior to the efforts that originally made up “Escargot Bianco”. And while the fifth bonus track has been commercially available on a prior occasion, this was limited to a live DVD, which I assume quite a few fans of this act may not have purchased. The stylistic expression explored on this creation is a rather peculiar one. The acoustic guitar provides the melodic and thematic foundation for most of the compositions, sometimes with more of a singer/songwriter approach, while on other occasions with a stronger emphasis on folk music, although not from any specific cultural background. Generic western folk music might be an appropriate description. The glockenspiel is used to add subtle rhythmic and melodic details to the proceedings, gentle flowing patterns harmonizing with the guitar. On quite a few occasions we're treated to glockenspiel solos too, which suits this musical landscape pretty well. The concertina and accordion have pretty much of a free role in these excursions, and although not dominating the soundscape to the extent they do on later works by this act they are certainly the most noticeable instruments in all these numbers, whether providing subtle details in the back or the mix or blazing through layered harmonic soloing on top of the guitar and glockenspiel. The bass, when utilized, tends to add some neat jazz-tinged elements to this production, an intriguing extra element when blended with the above mentioned instruments. And then there are the vocals. Totoki Yukiko has a good and strong voice that fits well with the music, and for most people living in the western hemisphere her Japanese vocals on top of the mostly western-influenced music make for an overall exotic sound, even more so due to the distinct elements from European folk music flavoring these compositions. And while these creations aren't as embellished or as detailed as what will appear on later releases by this outfit, the moods and melodies are strong, the atmospheres are sincere and the emotional impact strong, at least as long as one finds the rather peculiar musical blend of this outfit likable.

Conclusion. Quikion's debut “Escargot Bianco” is a strong effort. Its musical blend is rather peculiar and somewhat exotic, but if classy Japanese female vocals on top of a mostly western folk music-inspired musical tapestry sound like an interesting venture, and you truly like the accordion as an instrument, this is an effort you'd want to get.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 25, 2009
The Rating Room

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