Review Summary: It did indeed “Beat the Bright Out of Me”You and me at the edge of the bed
looking at the faded pictures for you to see and me to see
murder and colonies, land without rivers
raging in the middle of some sad destiny
Japanese violinist Kaoru Ishibashi arose in mid 2011 with the EP Room For Dream
under his moniker Kishi Bashi which was a beautiful indie folk album. It took influences from Animal Collective with their weird psychedelics and choral like vocal chants and Andrew Bird with its elegant folk edge along with a few other bands of a similar sound. He’s even played and has been featured in a few of Montreal songs and even has Kevin Barnes – the lead singer of of Montreal – on the last song on that EP. He then made a triumphant return in 2012 with 151a
Kaoru Ishibashi is an indie pop/folk/orchestral/electronic musician, and is also a man that makes his music with his influences popping out with each note he plays. Everything that you’ll hear on this album sounds like you’ve heard it before on an album by many different artists; perhaps not in its entirety, but snippets of different sounds. It ranges from the flamboyant poppy of Montreal-esque sounds of, It All Begins With a Burst, with its falsetto harmonic vocals and odd, quirky and bubbly song structures to a song like, Atticus, In the Desert, which sounds very pretty and orchestral while still sounding very folk and keeping this Sufjan Stevens-esque sound. The intro song, Intro / Pathos, Pathos, has a very natural and woodland feeling to it, giving the feeling of getting lost in forest only to run into a flurry of animals to dance and sing the way back to your home.
The vocals sound vibrant, alive, flamboyant, full and very pretty on this record giving it a beautiful over layering to the album. Another perk about this album are the beautiful orchestral sounds. Kishi Bashi plays the violin like an angel that bawl to the heavens and this orchestral, however very pop oriented, sound can be traced back to artists like Beirut or Owen Pallett. Other string instruments surround his playing as well. The song, Chester's Burst Over the Hamptons, showcases a very European and upbeat folk song – similar to Beirut - that perhaps portrays the traditional sounds of Scandinavian. On the topic of the song, Chester’s Burst Over the Hamptons, while keeping this upbeat sound, he has no problem smoothly changing his style completely and experimenting with other sounds adding synthesizers and a dark tone to the album, especially on a song like, I Am the Antichrist To You.
However, even though it seems as though Kishi Bashi makes his music based entirely on influences, he has managed to create an album that is extremely beautiful and can still sound relevant, natural, bucolic, rural, passionate and also be a lot of fun. The last song on the album, Beat the Bright Out of Me, - towards the end - is a dignified, atmospheric finish featuring ambient synthesizers and beautiful angelic vocal harmonies that travel within the depths of our psyche, much like the rest of the album.
151a is an excellent album to listen to when you’re in the mood for some poppy, and quirky, orchestral music. It is both upbeat at times and happy, and then can be very melancholic and depressing showcasing a beautiful mix of moods and emotions in each song. Most of the tracks layer themselves with a lot of electronics, baroque sounding string instruments, harmonic vocals and it is done in such a way that – however noticeable the influences maybe – it doesn’t ruin the mood of the album and makes it a very relaxing and pretty listen. This is an album for fans of of Montreal, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Beirut and many others, and most, if not all, of these bands share a similar pretty and flamboyant sound. The only gripe people might have with this album is that it is too short for the kind of music being played and goes by so fast that it takes a few listens to fully capture the beauty Ishibashi has presented us with. Kishi Bashi keeps you on your toes with every listen with its changing folk style as it gives you happy thoughts.