Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kishi Bashi - 151a (2012)

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It may have been a streak of determined Sondre Lerche fandom that first brought me into contact with Kishi Bashi last year but the man quickly won me over on his own merits. An utterly awe-inspiring one man band structured live show and the brilliantly eclectic debut Room For Dream EP, it's no wonder I fell in love with the violinist extraordinaire and the release of his debut full length 151a was at the very top of my most anticipated list - an album I and many, many others made possible through funding on Kickstarter.  A cursory listen to Kishi Bashi's EP (for the tragically uninitiated) is all the answer you need for why so many were clamoring to make K.'s vision a reality.

Given the cinematic scope of 151a, it's no coincidence that many of Kishi Bashi's songs make references to movies (or a novel in the case of "Manchester"), from "Intro" which leads right into "Pathos, Pathos", the album has an unceasing flow, thoughtful care obviously given not only to each track but also to their place on the album as each track slides virtually seamlessly into the other and builds upon the mood of its predecessor. Plaintive, introspective "Manchester" becomes the carefree flutter of "Bright Whites" then endearingly joyful "It Began With A Burst" with its abundance of man-made percussion and overflow of positive feeling. Each tonal shift and evolution is pleasantly familiar without being at all expected; a testament to K.'s gradual, organic growth of ideas and deft handling of them. When the album hits sparse, ethereal "I Am the Antichrist To You" with its frolicsome pizzicato, it's an inspiring moment of complete euphoria. The overwhelmingly beautiful track spirals into lushness while retaining its barebones simplicity that almost guarantees its place as the most emotion-stirring track on the whole album.

151a is an album after my own heart - clearly composed with a stunning delicacy and breathtaking intricacy while also having emotive tone-shifts. On 151a, K. effortlessly juggles fun ear-catching pop with serious orchestral flair and the result is a smile-inducing and earnest work of art. A soaring, heartfelt masterpiece grounded by artistic intent and sincere ingenuity.

Kishi Bashi's 151a is out now on Joyful Recordings. Give the stellar album a listen:

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