Kishi Bashi is as unique a musician as we've ever come across. Our love for the Virginian multi-instrumentalist started with "Bright Whites" last summer. The zany, blissed out first single packed the kind of joyful, instantaneous appeal that sent us scampering like teenagers on the last day of school to get our paws on his album 151a. Though an incredibly creative collection of songs, nothing prepared us for the wondrous way in which K Ishibashi reinvents songs for the stage. Joined by Tall Tall Trees' Mike Savino, our session with Kishi Bashi welcomes you to the world of looping; a treacherous, high wire musical act that offers very little safety netting for the musicians underneath. Pumping beat boxing, banjo, violin, and an endless stream of curious vocals into processors, looping pedals, and other fun gadgetry, K and Mike create an incredible swirl of music that could all go horribly wrong at any moment. It doesn't, of course. These men are professionals. But our latest session will have you guessing what might happen next. We, of course, are not ones to give away the surprise. You'll just have to step into this wild and wonderful world of music and see it for yourself.
And everyday I'd sit with you The moments passed and so did you on Sunday Yeah, on Sunday I felt the need. I could've cried I hide the tears. I know I tried on Sunday Yeah, on Sunday I knew the touch I heard the sound The smell that came around Evalyn, Evalyn The sun is up The summer sky has finally arrived Ooh Ah, Summer has arrived Ah, Summer has arrived Oh where was Spring and where was my song It came and went, I'm a helpless pawn That's sadness Yeah, that's sadness The patriarch's of summer's past They torture us with their endless jazz On Sundays Yeah on Sundays And everyday the memories dance Across the avenue Evalyn, Evalyn Evalyn, Evalyn Evalyn, Evalyn Evalyn, Evalyn Aah, Summer has arrived Aah, Summer has arrived Aah, Summer has arrived Aah, Summer has arrived - My journey is kind of long. I started as a, kinda, classical violinist and I played a lot of chamber music in high school. And then I listened to heavy metal music and rap. And then I got into jazz. And then drum and bass. And a lot of musicians got into drum and bass, live drum and bass-- - He's 63 years old, but he's good for his age. - My album, 151a, came out in April. Yeah, I guess It hasn't been a year, but it's coming out in Europe in a couple months. So all over again, I gotta go to Europe and do this whole thing all over again. Yeah, 151a is also Ichigo Ichie. Like, Ichi-go Ichi-e. And it also means one... one time, one meeting, which is a Japanese performance esthetic that's derived from a tea ceremony. But it means, basically, this one moment in time is unique, enjoy it with all its imperfections and/or mistakes. instrumental Oh hello, how are you, my favorite son In an hour, I will go where I've never gone In the span of the space between your mother's eyes Are the secrets that I've saved I hand them down to you Ooh, the averages and laws And it was every man for himself every child alone Oh, why do they shine so bright in my dreams? Golden blades, forged from love, they sever my feet But you know, where I'm going when all is said and done I don't need them or my secrets, Just the grace of one Here they come Here they come Here they come Oh, here they come Is everything signed? Nothing be undone, Sorry about the blood The devil and his stones It was every man for himself, every child alone Please tell your mother I'm sorry for the strife Tell your brother I loved him, the same to his wife But you know I am going, When all is said and done I don't need them or my secrets, Just the grace of one 'Cuz here they come Oh, here they come Is everything signed? Sorry 'bout the blood The devil and his stones And everything Every child alone Looping's kind of, uh... It's, it's dangerous. - It's a highwire act. It's a little bit. . - Yeah, it's like a... - Yeah, it's like competitive sports, kind of. - Yeah. - Yeah, we're competing against each other. - Yeah. - But um... I think it's very dangerous in that like, you could really mess up, and there's really nothing you could do about it. But people are forgiving, you know, when you play live. - For K and myself, it's just like... It becomes a part of playing your instrument, you know? - Yeah, so the arrangements you create with these loop pedals, a lot of it's, like, thought out in advance. But you know, when you're actually playing, or soloing, or enjoying it or getting a reaction from the crowd, which is a huge part of, like, the experience, you know, for a musician. It's like, uh, yeah, it's amazing, yeah, something you could get lost in, yeah. I wrote me a book, I hid the last page I didn't even look, I think I locked it in a cage Wrote a novel 'Cuz everybody likes to read a novel It started with a word, and it started pretty well About a rare and fragile bird, that I couldn't even spell On the table I think I left it on the table I found the last page in the sky Cold and sweet, like an apple I found you and now the story has its proper end Oh, hello, will you be mine? I haven't felt this alive in a long time All the streets are warm today Hey, I read the signs I haven't been this in love in a long time The sun is all, the sun will stay All for the new day The very last breath of the hero of our tale would leave you only to guess did he truly prevail in the sequel I guess I'll have to write a sequel My favorite part's when I die In your arms like a movie It's tragic, but now the story has its proper end Oh, hello, will you be mine? I haven't felt this alive in a long time All the streets are warm today Hey, and I read the signs I haven't been this in love in a long time The sun is up, the sun will stay All for the new day instrumental Oh, hello, will you be mine? I haven't felt this alive in a long time All the streets are warm today Hey, I read the signs I haven't been this in love in a long time The sun is up, the sun will stay instrumental Oh, hello, will you be mine? The days are short, And I wrote me my last rhyme All the streets are warm today I read the signs I haven't been this in love In a long time It's been a long time Ooh, it's been a long time Everything is... On a scale of 1 to 10, the excitement is, what, 11, 12, I think? - Yeah, 11, 12. It's been a lotta fun, you know. - The thing that I'm most excited about, like what's happening now is... is I'm now in the position where I can just, you know... to create music and to inspire people and to make people happy. The hero of our tale would leave you only to guess Did he truly prevail in the sequel I guess I'll have to write a sequel My favorite...
On Kishi Bashis debut full length, 151a, the songwriter expands on the majestic sound of his Room for Dream EP (Aerobic International), teasing out the baroque mysteries suggested in those songs while sharpening focus. Since the release of Room for Dream, K Ishibashi has toured with Sondre Lerche, and Alexi Murdoch. He's also collaborated with of Montreal's Kevin Barnes on that bands new album, Paralytic Stalks. This last endeavour, Ishibashi credits with some of his most recent musical growth, acknowledging that Barnes pushed him to new heights of creativity, forcing him to explore a broader use of his primary instrument, the violin. This experimentation affected his loop-based live show and led to him write more of the new record with violin rather than piano or guitar, loosening him from the grip of habit and expanding his palette. Ishibashi uses Japenese singing as another of many layers, doing so without any trace of gimmickry, and achieving what, to Western ears, must sound like an expression of the ineffable.
After lead track "Intro/Pathos, Pathos," a soaring yet concise amalgam of all that is to come, the record unfolds with a gentle, and somehow grander revisiting of two songs from Room for Dream, reigniting their purpose with subtle variations that serve the larger arc of this new LP. From this foundation the record candidly affirms its suggested dialectic, a dance between the earthbound materialism of captured art and its airy origins, in the give and take of "It All Began With a Burst." The song appropriately struggles for take-off, whispering its intentions in washes of synthesizer that threaten to drown the claps and voices struggling to emerge, until a fragile harmony is realized in a bass-driven dance beat and desperately triumphant vocals.
From the deconstructed doo-wop of "Wonder Woman, Wonder Me," a 21st century transmission of Smile-era Brian Wilson that is both lush and blushingly naked to the menacing marriage of Eastern hues and Western operatics that is the Blade Runner-like trance of "Beat the Bright out of Me," this album is a mediation between opposing drives, offering possible reconciliation but never promising it. A nuanced awareness of inherent contradiction is constant in all of these songs, at turns jubilant, as in "Chesters Burst Over the Hamptons," a frenetic violin driven gallop full of stabs of sound and classical vocal harmonics that resolves in a synth and string composition worthy of Bach or Vangelis, and lamentable, most pronounced in the sweet despair of "I Am the Antichrist to You," which layers the delicate vocal melodies of the best of post-Beatles pop over a somber and beautiful New Age string arrangement.
If "I Am the Antichrist to You" is tragedy, then "Atticus, in the Desert" is comedy, albeit dark, bouncing and whistling with the acceptance of romantic failure, reaching for a fuller, more compassionate survey of the landscape. Starting with the admission, couched in the layered a capella not done so well since Queen, that "as twins we create an era, two souls in bright Sahara," a tale is told, over bright symphonic gypsy pop, of a doomed affair, and yet there is a palpable sense of acceptance and even enjoyment in the suffering.
It is fitting that, during the conception of this record, Ishibashi was mindful of the Japanese term "ichi-go ichi-e," a recognition of lifes transience, sometimes translated as "for this time only." Acknowledging that each moment happens only once, ichi-go ichi-e, reminds one to invest fully in these moments but also to let go of their outcome. It is in this practice that one opens the portals to both creativity and love and the results are clearly in evidence throughout this record with its synthesis of disparate formal elements and its unnerving look at contradiction.