Thursday, 7 February 2019

Masaki Batoh - Nowhere, album review

Everywhere, Really

Redolent of 60s/70s acoustic singer-songwriter material, opener Nowhere has sweet if imperfect [as in not auto-tuned] self-harmonising, and this sets that nostalgic mood and tone. Next Tower of the Silence is graced with considerable guitar work, itself reminding of Jansch et al, so the influence not unexpected, though an interlude played across the fret’s harmonics adds variation, as does the mix of Japanese and English vocals and the rise near the end that is a clear echo of a roused Roy Harper.

So I’m in a comfort zone with this.

The Bandcamp music blurb is itself reminiscent of a spacey articulation of a message,

We come from nowhere and fade back there again. Masaki Batoh’s ‘Nowhere’ reaches out of that darkness, with strings of steel and voices echoing out of time — a vast space echoing with the music of many eras, played and sung in tongues of many nations. Batoh is opening the door for you — if you are able to pass through, ‘Nowhere’ is waiting for you.

and I’m content enough with this folk-psyche encapsulation too.

There’s mellotron on Tambourine, and fourth Devil Got Me is a wonderful blues amalgam of classic slide, harmonica and again Japanese vocal merging backgrounds. Goucho No Sora and Dum Spiro Spero [Latin for ‘While I breathe, I hope’] add further exotic tangents, the latter played with banjo and sung in Latin in a fragile falsetto. Penultimate Sundown is electric and psychedelic and the music expands, Hawkwind-esque I guess, with harmonica, and closer Boi-Taull is a 16 minute acoustic guitar traverse across styles, including Spanish and occasional avant-garde.

So this album of six delicate songs, plus one heavyish and one solo instrumental, is also distinctive within its otherwise familiar framework and I especially like it for that.

Get it here.

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