Review Summary: 'We didn’t really change anything. We just got deeper into the playing of the music.'
Familiarity does not necessarily imply imitation. Convention can be subverted to serve a different aesthetic entirely, twisting the familiar into a welcoming stranger. Jizue’s own blend of jazz and post-rock depends on this, anchoring their wayward fusion to reliable structures and recognisable musical palettes. The result is a cheerful exercise in musical portraiture, with Shiori
, their fourth LP, capturing the same gentle playfulness of their earlier releases. Admittedly, Jizue haven't experimented far past their previous efforts with this album, but perhaps they never felt the need. Ten tracks, a self-aware ‘Intro’, a reading motif - shiori translates to bookmark - it’s all ground they’ve tread before. It succeeds because they embellish the mundane, what we dare call the known, allowing their particular fusion to blossom into a sound that’s effortlessly their own.
It’s a question of approach. Shiori
’s composition relies on intuition and instinct, their structural frameworks providing a foundation for music that feels, by construction, improvisational. It’s an ideal that belies their musical skill, carefully crafting what sounds like a perfect jam, each member falling beneath the keen pulse of the whole. ‘Bullet Bill’ opens with staccato guitar and spirited piano, yet beneath the initial powering stride, everything feels lighthearted - it’s a rare album that shares the spontaneous joy of the musicians. They’re caught in the turmoil: the title track is wrought from conflict and contrast, with skittering piano yielding to a military beat. Not every track is powered by such chaotic energy - ‘Wind’ slows to reveal a quieter jazz core - but its presence pervades even the slower moments. Even when subdued, they hum with a quiet, barely restrained exhilaration.
Much like Journal
before it, Shiori
involves collaboration: Ikkyu Nakajimi appears on ‘Photograph’, a more traditional jazz-rock piece that lilts between gentle and driving. On the other, ‘Shinko’, Jizue do nothing to hide their enthusiasm for working with Shing02, as piano and guitar accelerate alongside an idol’s rapping. It’s an awkward position for an instrumental band accustomed to the spotlight, but Jizue never lose sight of their identity: the expressive counterpoint of guitar and piano, the intricacies of Shin Kokawa’s drumming, the vivid climbs and the exhausted collapses, they all remain, shifting to act as a vessel for the new-found vocals.
Yet, they remain their strongest when left to themselves. ‘March of the Monkey’ builds through a series of guitar solos, eventually coalescing into a manic push forward, the piano steadily climbing in intensity as the guitar collapses into distortion. ‘Fauve’ carries the same emotional force, a showcase of percussion that jumps between the sly and the bombastic. Jizue may consent to pause on occasion, but only to heighten the inevitable squall - they exploit space, dancing between the two genres, each little twist a burst of colour. After all, few instrumental albums manage to conjure such imagery. Just as Novel
before it, Shiori
shifts from mood to mood, idea to idea, a succession of moments and thoughts. From the light ‘Intro’ to the distinctly cadential ‘Blessing’, much as their album titling suggests, Jizue are bound to the story.