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Album Review

Sanjah – “musen / is ” – [Psf]

Thurston Hunger   3/30/2006   A Library, CD

You don’t have to speak a word of Japanese to know that KAN
MIKAMI means exactly what he sings. His voice has this deep
resonance and resolution, at times it sounds like he might
dip all the way down into Gregorian intoning. The “voice” of
his partner MASAYOSHI URABE is every bit as impassioned on
sax. Whereas MIKAMI works the lower registers, URABE sails
up high to the squeakier part of the sound spectrum. Great
sparky sax on the opening number. On the second piece, URABE
blows a honky squonky tonk harmonica, while MIKAMI allows
TOSHIAKI ISHIZUKA to help stoke an angry fire. Man is this
recorded well, with enough cushion of reverb to give it that
kinda of excited hall of sound. #3 finds gusty flute leading
to more gutty sax. MIKAMI again is oozing emotion, like a
thin white-hot duke. Deep growl to choked whisper in seconds,
all the while keeping a sort of Dirty Three guitar strumble
flowing. This song goes through some harrowing passages,
I think URABE is blowing that thing on the cover…and it’s
calling legions from faraway planets to come here and sit
and listen to the voice of MIKAMI. By the end, you’ve got
the sound of a lonely king on a melodica throne. There’s
no ease in expertise. This album is alive. -Thurston Hunger

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