Art is meant to be transportive, coaxing its audience into an experience that transcends the normal bounds of "real world" aesthetics. See, it's easy to get yanked into an explosion on a movie theater screen, or a rambunctious Broadway dance number. But music is an art-form often reserved as a backdrop for the banal moments of our day to day lives. Unless we're talking about live shows, music is considered an ideal medium for the multi-tasker.
That's all well and good, but Kishi Bashi's debut album 151a is a humble reminder that the best music demands our full attention. And the rewards for the avid listener are substantial. If you let it, Kishi Bashi's "151a" can be as immerssive as a 3D movie or as imaginative as any Disney theme park, in its own unimposing, quietly brilliant way. Kishi Bashi steadily crafts a fantasy world as vivid and palpable as anything Pixar can do. With subtle complexities and deftly textured soundscapes, this album elegantly conveys the full range of human emotions.
Kishi Bashi's been around the indie block once or twice. The multi-instrumentalist has toured with big players like Regina Spector and of Montreal. In a midst of competing side projects, the album 151a emerges filled with a fabulous wonderland of airy, vibrant songs. While often mellow and subdued, the album is anything but boring. It's too filled with life for that. The instruments are almost anthropomorphic, taking on their own voices, ranging from petulant to playful to tragic. This masterful musical puppeteer breaths life into each sound. In our time of often limp and lifeless synths and gratuitous dubstep bass drops, this music possesses a unique purity.
"Wonder Woman, Wonder Me" shimmers and expands, like a rock skipping across water. It's lovely and theatrical, while "Manchester" is simple and sad, with an echoing voice and dainty string arrangement.
Kishi Bashi paints a vivid masterpiece in this album, and succeeds in the artist's perennial goal of creating a unique fantasy world. It requires your full attention, but makes it worth your time.