Saturday, May 24, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW- Kishi Bashi - "Lighght" - One Of The Greatest Albums Ever Produced - A Sonic Ambassador Of Youthful Hope

Kishi Bashi, the moniker of songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and  dream violinist  Kaoru Ishibashi has been a mixed bag for me. His first full length album 151 a did contain some beautifully unique songs but as a collection of songs was (for me) a meandering affair that didn't quite gel together as a whole piece of work. This second album Lighght which takes it's title from the one word poem by Aram Saroyan (think about that for a second) is a huge step up. It is a tapestry of sounds that sonically feel like a dreamy synthesis of modern indie pop, 70's prog rock pop and orchestral music. The varied songs carry with them some melodies that feel familiar but not in a detrimental sort of way. While every listener will undoubtedly flash certain similarities based on their own library of other music and artists, I thought of bands like Electric Light Orchestra, Sin Fang Bous, Alan Parsons Project, Animal Collective, Moody Blues, Abba, A-Ha, Gap Dream, Supertramp and more. I even thought of Tiny Tim and some of the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Yeah, I know that is weird. These songs are wrapped in the youthful exuberance of a 13 year old heart before it was broken. Musical images that sometimes feel like fables. The songs on Lighght feel so purely rendered. The sound, the tones don't feel beholden to any set trends which is refreshing.

The funny thing is I heard The Ballad of Mr. Steak before I heard the album in it's entirety. It is a dazzling shiny song full of bittersweet and uplifting melodies. It is like a tortured Sci-Fi love pop song full of gee whiz and cheese whiz too. At first listen, I liked it despite some of the lyrics that might make me gag if I just read them. The song succeeds despite these shortcomings because Ishibashi is fully invested in it. This is key because all the songs share this inspired feel and I might add, these songs work best when listened to non stop as an album. All the individual songs are bolstered by the others. Because Lighght is so special and should be listened and experienced in it's completeness I dare not speak about every song but I would like to mention a few. The 5th track Bittersweet Genesis for Him AND Her is an absolute stunning piece of work. It's tone and structure not only surprised me but it has a gravitas that the other songs do not contain. It is so beautifully intimate and sublimely poetic that it can wrap you in a blanket of sadness. Lighter fare but also special is the mainstream sounding Q&A. It feels like falling in love for the first time. I think for me it was my first grade teacher Miss Sayers. Once Upon a Lucid Dream (in Afrikaans) has a vast sweep to it with production flourishes that harken back to 80's pop rock. Plilosophize In It! Chemicalize With It! is a celebratory mish mash of beats and sounds and deeply moving musical breaks. Hahaha Pt.1 is a breezy sail across a beautiful sea. In Fantasia with it's dark themes builds a world around you as you listen.

The amazing musical vistas of sound that Kishi Bashi crafts tap into that youthful sense of hope that children have and that adults all too often lack but are in constant need of. These songs make you want to engage in magical thinking, so much so that at one point I thought that if the entire world could listen to this album en mass at the same time we could have world peace. Okay, let me amend this statement. If the entire world could listen to this album en mass and smoke some good 70's California weed THEN we could have world peace. All silliness aside, after many many listens to Lighght I finally figured out why this alubm is so utterly special to me. Besides the childlike hope that is infused in these songs, there are passages of music on this album (many of them really) that are perfect sound tracks, remembrances to pieces of your life. Musical imagery to underscore the trials and tribulations of youth and beyond, the utter high and lows, triumphs and tragedies, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one. For now, Lighght is Kishi Bashi's White Album and it glows with all the passion and life put there by it's creator and that, my friend, is special indeed.

Robb Donker

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