Saturday, April 3, 2010
Yoshida Brothers - Hishou 2007
Superstars in their native Japan, young Tsugaru-shamisen virtuosos Ryoichiro and Kenichi Yoshida "The Yoshida Brothers "have effected nothing short of a cultural revolution with a muscular reinvention of the ancient three-stringed instrument, giving it the fiery passion of a rock n´ roll guitar. Online world music portal World Music Central notes,Clad in formal, ceremonial attire of kimonos and hakama pants, but sporting the dyed light brown hair that is trendy among Japan´s savvy youth, the Brothers play the age-old Tsugaru-shamisen "an instrument akin to a rustic three-stringed banjo" with the fervor of Jimi Hendrix.
This is just a perfect CD. The Yoshida Brothers have gotten some international acclaim, largely due to their being featured on commercials for Nintendo's Wii, but aside from this minor celebrity status they are amazing musicians with a beautiful and original take on a classic instrument.
This is not "rock shamisen" by any means, but nor is it the silent plucking and yelping that many associate with the instrument. Playing in the tsugaru-jamisen style of Northern Japan, the brothers play with a heavy percussive sound and with rhythms that vary in tempo from lighting fast to achingly slow, often in the same song. Unlike some other Yoshida Brothers CDs, "Hishou" (meaning "flying" or "souring" in Japanese) does not make use of background instruments like synthesizers and drums. This is just pure shamisen virtuosity.
I was fortunate enough to see the Yoshida Brothers on a recent tour, where they pretty much played "Hishou" from start to finish. As amazing as this CD is, their live performance is so much more so, and one cannot help but be astounded by their dexterity with the instrument.
By Zack Davisson.
Yoshida Kyodai were a big hit for playing fresh, contemporary shamisen music, so of course I thought all their CDs were at least half composed of these innovative new arrangements. But not so with this album.
While Hishou represents that newness that made Yoshida Kyodai famous, it's not at a level people unaccustomed to hearing shamisen will recognise as anything but traditional.
Still, anyone who really appreciates a high level of musicianship presented in a way that doesn't sound gratingly experimental will love this album, as will the listener who just wants something to mix up their collection a bit and/or chill out to.
This is not background music to shut out the world by. This is music to listen to and appreciate.
By John P. Thiel.
01. Prelude: Hishou 2:38
02. Ibuki (Hishou Version) 6:29
03. Kodo (Hishou Version) 3:20
04. Ringo Bushi 2:37
05. Ajigasawa Jinku 3:07
06. Yasaburo Bushi 3:54
07. Panorama 3:07
08. Tsugaru Yosare Bushi (Hishou Version) 6:24
09. Time of Sand 4:36
10. Tsugaru Aiya Rushi (Hishou Version) 5:43
11. Modern (Hishou Version) 2:26
12. Dual 4:28
13. Tsugaru Jongara Bushi (Hishou Version) 14:41
14. Postlude: Hishou 0:46