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U-Ni - 2008 - "Samadhi"

(42:03, Vital Records)


TRACK LIST:                                 

1.  Akasatana 5:37
2.  Perception 7:59
3.  Samadhi 8:16
4.  Nirvana 20:11


Tatsuhiro Honmura – guitar, bass; keyboard; recorder; drums

Prolusion. U-Ni is a pseudonym for Japanese multi-instrumentalist and minimalist artist Tatsuhiro Honmura. "Samadhi" is his debut release under this moniker, and the album was released in 2007 on Vital Records, a division of the Japanese label Poseidon Records.

Analysis. Like the cover art for the CD, the musical contents of this release are also of the minimalist variety. All four compositions (in reality three, as the last two really are one tune) are built up in pretty much the same manner: several instruments performing repeating patterns and musical themes, with one instrument given the role to repeat its specific part with subtle changes to each repetition. The opening tune Akasatana is dominated by a rhythmic and melodic circulating guitar sound and a melodic bass line, with a guitar solo pattern providing the variation. To add emphasis to the last element, the pattern is dual-layered for major parts of the composition. One break in the middle and some instance of instruments with minor roles in the soundscape coming and going provides enough tension to the tune to keep this one interesting. Perception, after a fragmented prelude, has spacey guitar licks, a slow and primitive sounding bass line and mellow drums making up the constants, while bursts from a distinctly '70s sounding fuzz guitar adds the variation. These guitar riffs eventually form a pattern, and a solo is thrown in on top of that one, resulting in a sound pretty similar to classic German psychedelic rock. Just after 5 minutes there's a break, and for the rest of its playing time this song consist of a repetitive acoustic guitar segment. Samadhi and Nirvana end the album, two songs which in reality come across as one composition. And these tunes come across as highly inspired by the aforesaid style, especially due to the sound and utilization of guitars in both songs. While the former has its basis in distorted guitar riffs, the latter has a mellower sound to it, and slightly varying guitar patterns being the foremost component of this. In the final part of Nirvana distorted riffs, sounding pretty similar to the ones used in Samadhi, appear, further strengthening the notion of the last two tunes being parts of one composition. With the above remarks in mind, it shouldn't be a surprise that U-Ni claims to be influenced by artists like Ash Ra Tempel, Neu and Can, while other mentioned influences like Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath may be harder to find traces of on this CD. As minimalist “krautrock”-inspired music goes, this release isn't half bad. The compositions aren't perfect by far, but contain enough nerve, tension and memorable moods to come across as good tunes in general, and the opening tune Akasatana and title track Samadhi even manage to incorporate a high degree of "play it again" sensibility, thus being the best tunes on this release in my opinion.

Conclusion. Fans of minimalist music and German psychedelic rock might all find this release to be of interest, in particular those amongst them fascinated by repetitive musical patterns and compositions where change and variation most times takes place in subtle details and nuances rather than in central melody lines.

OMB: July 19, 2008
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Vital / Poseidon Records


ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages