Kishi Bashi – Lightght review

LightghtSince releasing his debut 151a two years ago, Kishi Bashi has toured relentlessly across the world, and after working with artists along the lines of Regina Spektor, he chose to concentrate purely on his own music which lead to the creation of Lightght. Pronounced “light”, the album continues his prominent focus on violin as its primary drive, whilst including more than a handful of other influences, exploring and enhancing the sound which earned him Best New Artist of 2012 by NPR.

The 47 second opener, Debut Impromtu, holds more speed from the start that most albums do at their best, and the intricacy of this piece alone demonstrates a strong technical ability. However, with violin dominating the track, this provides a somewhat straightforward approach to a remarkably non-straightforward album. Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It! brings in more of the unusual traits of the album, and sits as a cross-section of purely violin, electro-pop, and eastern influences. Boasting a music video, it’s understandable as to why this track could be released as a single, compiling upbeat melodies and unreachable high vocal work that coaxes the listener to sing along, anyway.

The Ballad of Mr. Steak holds a title possibly as unusual as the sound it pairs with. As strange as it is to hear a song sounding so influenced by the likes of HAIM and CHVRCHES, yet written about a steak, well, if you take the lyrics as metaphorical or not, it is unarguably excellent and will almost definitely become an earworm. Carry On Phenomenon continues the complexly intricate instrumental, and whilst violin remains the true highlight of the track, it is driven forwards by powerful drums and fluid vocals.

Spoken word adds its influence and plays its part in Bittersweet Genesis For Him And Her, with cello adding a deeper sound to the typically violin powered track. At just under a minute long, Impromptu No. 1 is the second instrumental track off the album, collected on January 16th 2014, and provides the perfect introduction  for personal favourite of the album, Q&A. Combining Japanese with English lyrics (beautifully written in both languages, I migth add), the love song holds more sincerity than the previous tracks, with vocal support provided by Keiko Ishibashi, credited in the quaint handbook that accompanies the physical CD.

Once Upon A Lucid Dream (In Afrikaans) drastically shifts the focus away from the violin that had propelled the majority of the album, and the shift in attention to percussion and layered vocals adds a new variety to the album. The oddly titled Hahaha Pt. 1 and its counterpart, Hahaha Pt. 2 feature very little in common bar their names; a change in tempo, instrumental development and lyrical complexity are only a few of the signifying differences between the two tracks. The tenuous lyrical links between the two seem to serve little purpose, but positioning them together on the album creates a thought-provoking contrast.

The seven minute spectacle, In Fantasia, which draws the album to its close, does so with poise and grace. Lower, more solemn vocals bring about a powerful tone, and the delicate use of Japanese in the predominantly English-language song adds a personal note to the masterpiece.

After finishing off his phenomenal record, Kishi Bashi will set off touring UK and Europe later this year – a full list of dates can be found below.

Oct 11th – Whelans, Dublin (IE)
Oct 13th – The Cluny, Newcastle (UK)
Oct 14th – Broadcast, Glasgow (UK)
Oct 15th – The Deaf Institute, Manchester (UK)
Oct 16th – Thekla, Bristol (UK)
Oct 17th – Bush Hall, London (UK)
Oct 18th – Bermuda Triangle, Brighton (UK)
Oct 20th – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham (UK)
Oct 22nd – Witloof Bar, Sint-Joost-Ten-Node (BE)
Oct 23rd – Point Ephemere, Paris (FR)
Oct 24th – La Peniche, Lille (FR)
Oct 25th – Paradijskerk, Rotterdam (NE)
Oct 27th – Paradiso, Amsterdam (NE)
Oct 28th – Studio 672, Cologne (DE)
Oct 29th – Rock Café, Hamburg (DE)
Oct 30th – Comet Club, Berlin (DE)
Oct 31st – Ampere, Munich (DE)
Nov 1st – Kiff, Aarau (CH)

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