cd release :: nikaidoh kazumi

i was so excited to finally receive nikaidoh kazumi's new album in the mail from ontonson. 'no album' is her first proper solo release since 2003's magical 'you dropped it again, didn't you?' her last output, a collaboration with saya source of tenniscoats, showed she was still up to her playful childish fragmented melodies. Ipiya is challenging and not directly accessible, almost experimental. i fell in love with her music immediately a couple of years ago. playful, folky, melodic. she's a girl with an acoustic guitar that doesn't sound like every girl with an acoustic guitar songwriter. she's known for her colorful voice which she manipulates into multiple personalities. childish to human trumpet to breathy to almost this speak easy impersonation of something from the past.

upon the first round of listening to the album, a wave of many emotions came over me. this album is a total breakaway from her previous releases. her earlier works fell in suite with a kind of diy sound, fitting the entourage of tenniscoats and maher shalal hash baz. even her con
nection to mt. eerie and k records seemed like a realistic extension to her family of sound. her music is playful and addictive and spontaneous, mysteriously twee; if not hinted enough on her us tour 2003 dvd, her spirit highly crushable too. mt. eerie gushing over it on film and me too! seeing her collaboratory efforts on stage with the whole diy japanese underground gang, i was expecting a stronger influence of her friends' sounds.

:: listen to lover's rock

the new album has mad production all over it. nikaidoh has graduated from indie rock school and put out a j-pop idol album. her voice is as powerful and beautiful as ever, but the songs have dropped that level of intimacy that was so easy to access in her previous more lofi albums. a little bittersweet, i felt like a protective father who realizes on prom day that his little princess has grown up. the drums are mixed for jazz pop. brass sections almost sounding like ska production rather then maher bill wells i-can't-play-but-i'm-playing tones. the leading single, 'lover's rock', could almost sound like a japanese norah jones. most of the songs take on a much more adult sound to them. soft and beautiful. but this time, her multiple personality vocal style alienates each song from the rest of the album. 'itemo tattemo irarenai' runs playfully like a ragtime broadway song. 'aire kawaiya' is throwback to an old traditional japanese song style, but the high production search for a strange sound to push a melody is forceful. the rest of the songs fall into slow tempo lullabies awashed in production. 'temperature of the windowside' and 'kyou wo tou part 2' are familiar old songs from her previous releases and performance, all redone with crystal glass. the closest song that acknowledges her past is 'long torch song,' but it doesn't transcend the classics from her previous albums.

:: listen to aire kawaiya

the punch is nikaidoh does have the raw vocal talent to support a higher production, bigger sounding cd. although her associations in the past have been with diy lo fi sounding musicians, in comparison to their skill and not their creed, nikaidoh has the ability to surpass them. i guess that's the realization i have to overcome in listening to this album.

her voice is precious and will always turn my ear. this album will definitely inherit a new fanbase for her, but i feel like old fans may feel like their little nikasoup has gotten a makeover at glamour shots. a little recalibration is required. still beautiful, but with extra layers to the core sound. it'll take a couple of more listens and weeks to really digest this album. whether this album is her new direction or a separate instance of itself remains a mystery for now.

2,730 YEN
order from ontonson
postage will be 800 YEN from ontonson

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