Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kono Michi - 9 Death Haiku

From the liner notes: "9 Death Haiku is a series of songs, each set to a different haiku poem by Japanese Buddhist monks who died in the 18th or 19th centuries, their respective haiku being a final presentation to humankind before making their journey out of this world."

If that isn't the greatest album concept god. Roger Waters would weep.

A home-recorded paean to Eastern philosophy and Western musical mélange, 9 Death Haiku is everything one could hope for from such a unique and ambitious project. Combining chamber strings, toy instruments, and electronic flourishes with siren song vocals, Kono Michi's debut achieves an intensely psychedelic effect while remaining wholly organic. The result is even more grand than its component influences: classical, raga, gagaku, and downtempo electronica all get fair play in Michi's living room studio. Everything sounds equally epic, from the labyrinthian string arrangements to the explosive percussion to the tinkling piano, while Michi's voice floats above the tempest, delivering insight from her elders in a cadence that is both playful and tightly controlled. The album carries the push-pull dynamic of the ocean, its warm undercurrents giving way to the crash of the surf upon the shore. Much like riding the waves, the experience is all too brief, but endlessly desirable. A

Cowboy Junkies, Björk, Philip Glass

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