Album Review

Japanese Koto Orchestra – “Five Kotos, Hoteki, Shamisen and Shakuhachu” – [Lyrichord Discs, Inc]

surferrosa   5/30/2012   12-inch, International

The Koto is an ancient classical Japanese instrument which dates back to possibly before the 8th century, though koto music became well established around the 16th century. Playing the Koto well is a respectable accomplishment that enhances the marital prospects of well-bred Japanese girls (that is a quote! read the liner notes) This instrument typically has 13 strings, sometimes 17 or 18 and is usually 6 feet or longer. The Koto is plucked. It sounds almost like a cross between some sort of lute and harp. Other instruments featured here are the Shamisen, a bowed string instrument elemental to the kabuki music sound, and the Shakuhachi, a bamboo flute which doubled as a weapon for masterless samurai who were forbidden to carry weapons. The musicianship here echoes of mastery. Stunning melodies and counter-melodies of plucked and bowed strings, intertwining with one another and forming a daydream of the Japanese countryside. The nimble fingers of these musicians produce the tremolo pick and haunting yet delicate tones. Sounds of the orient intrigue your ears with the non western sense of rhythm and scale. Side A is one long piece which goes through many movements, heavy dynamics and variations in intensity. Like an old folk tale never meant for words. Side B contains two shorter pieces with stringwork to set you besides yourself. Quite stunning. -Surfer Rosa

you heard it 49 times on kfjc! most recently:
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