Release Date: Nov 30, 2011
Record label: Joyful Noise
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Kishi Bashi151a[Joyful Noise; 2012]By Ray Finlayson; April 9, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIt All Began With a Burst by Joyful Noise RecordingsInaction is all part of the British mentality. You let the worst happen to you or around you, then go home, have a cup of tea, and think about what you would have said had you the mind to speak up for once in your life. Your existence gradually becomes a series of regrets about what you could have done, thinking about the reactions it would have provoked, and how glorious it all could have all been.
The best spot-the-influence albums don’t just work obvious reference points into new shape via synthesis—they match or better those influences on their home turf. On his debut solo album, K Ishibashi (aka Kishi Bashi) doesn’t bother ducking the Andrew Bird and Owen Pallett comparisons that are bound to dog him as a solo pop violinist/multi-instrumentalist, and he seemingly makes no bones about his admiration for Animal Collective. That Ishibashi occasionally slips into Japanese in his songs is indicative of his overall approach; on 151a: He proves himself conversant in many languages without sacrificing his own idiosyncratic vision.
151a begins with the sort of lush sweep of harmonic joy that can only precede a work of deft skill and ambition. Kishi Bashi whirls around a string section and choir before you even hear his voice. The giddy confidence of opening an album so decadently certainly sets this up as something to get excited about, even though this is actually a rather modest 34-minute Kickstarter-funded full-length from the touring violinist for of Montreal and Regina Spektor, K.
K Ishibashi began work on his debut full-length, 151a, with an already impressive resume. Under the pseudonym of Kishi Bashi, the multi-instrumentalist has contributed his violin skills to artists like Regina Spektor, Sondre Lerche and most recently Of Montreal. These experiences with other artists color the tracks on 151a—Ishibashi especially enjoys the lively theatrics of Of Montreal—but this is without a doubt Ishibashi’s album.
Kaoru Ishibashi emerges as a new indie stylist after toiling away as a multi-instrumentalist for Sondre Lerche, Regina Spektor, and Of Montreal. The Seattle native's debut full-length, 151a, branded by a phonetic representation of loosely translated Japanese phrase "live every day as though it were your last," indeed offers a carpe-diem blend of silliness and surrealism, pathos and ethereal melodies layered like a quirky aural mille-feuille. "Bright Whites" bops a bouncy exhortation in Japanese to "probably impossible/can't stop/can't take it anymore," as Ishibashi reflects on finding solace in sex in the face of bloody history.
As one of the parties involved with the latest Of Montreal album, Paralytic Stalks, it would be fair to assume that Kishi Bashi's debut was going to be a weird, messy release. But it turns out that K. Ishibashi (the lone contributor to 151a) might have been the stabilizing factor that kept Kevin Barnes in check because this is an impressively restrained piece of work.