San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
On Kishi Bashi’s debut full length, ‘151a,’ the songwriter expands on the majestic sound
of his Room for Dream EP (Aerobic International), teasing out the baroque mysteries
suggested in those songs while sharpening focus. Since the release of Room for Dream, K
Ishibashi has toured with Sondre Lerche, and Alexi Murdoch. He's also collaborated with
of Montreal's Kevin Barnes on that band’s new album, Paralytic Stalks. This last
endeavour, Ishibashi credits with some of his most recent musical growth,
acknowledging that Barnes pushed him to new heights of creativity, forcing him to
explore a broader use of his primary instrument, the violin. This experimentation affected
his loop-based live show and led to him write more of the new record with violin rather
than piano or guitar, loosening him from the grip of habit and expanding his palette.
Ishibashi uses Japenese singing as another of many layers, doing so without any trace of
gimmickry, and achieving what, to Western ears, must sound like an expression of the
After lead track “Intro/Pathos, Pathos,” a soaring yet concise amalgam of all that is to
come, the record unfolds with a gentle, and somehow grander revisiting of two songs
from Room for Dream, reigniting their purpose with subtle variations that serve the larger
arc of this new LP. From this foundation the record candidly affirms its suggested
dialectic, a dance between the earthbound materialism of captured art and its airy origins,
in the give and take of “It All Began With a Burst.” The song appropriately struggles for
take-off, whispering its intentions in washes of synthesizer that threaten to drown the
claps and voices struggling to emerge, until a fragile harmony is realized in a bass-driven
dance beat and desperately triumphant vocals.
From the deconstructed doo-wop of “Wonder Woman, Wonder Me,” a 21st century
transmission of Smile-era Brian Wilson that is both lush and blushingly naked to the
menacing marriage of Eastern hues and Western operatics that is the Blade Runner-like
trance of “Beat the Bright out of Me,” this album is a mediation between opposing drives,
offering possible reconciliation but never promising it. A nuanced awareness of inherent
contradiction is constant in all of these songs, at turns jubilant, as in “Chester’s Burst
Over the Hamptons,” a frenetic violin driven gallop full of stabs of sound and classical
vocal harmonics that resolves in a synth and string composition worthy of Bach or
Vangelis, and lamentable, most pronounced in the sweet despair of “I Am the Antichrist
to You,” which layers the delicate vocal melodies of the best of post-Beatles pop over a
somber and beautiful New Age string arrangement.
If “I Am the Antichrist to You” is tragedy, then “Atticus, in the Desert” is comedy, albeit
dark, bouncing and whistling with the acceptance of romantic failure, reaching for a
fuller, more compassionate survey of the landscape. Starting with the admission, couched
in the layered a capella not done so well since Queen, that “as twins we create an era, two
souls in bright Sahara,” a tale is told, over bright symphonic gypsy pop, of a doomed
affair, and yet there is a palpable sense of acceptance and even enjoyment in the
It is fitting that, during the conception of this record, Ishibashi was mindful of the
Japanese term “ichi-go ichi-e,” a recognition of life’s transience, sometimes translated as
“for this time only.” Acknowledging that each moment happens only once, ichi-go ichi-e,
reminds one to invest fully in these moments but also to let go of their outcome. It is in
this practice that one opens the portals to both creativity and love and the results are
clearly in evidence throughout this record with its synthesis of disparate formal elements
and its unnerving look at contradiction.
Shortly after debuting his full length solo album 151a, NPR ‘All Songs Considered’ host
Bob Boilen listed Kishi Bashi as his favorite new artist of 2012 noting that he created "a
radiant, uplifting soundscape" with songs such as "Bright Whites. In the same year,
Microsoft licensed "Bright Whites" for use in a commercial for Windows 8. Around the
same time,Sony used Kishi Bashi's song "It All Began With A Burst" from the same
album for a commercial introducing their Xperia Tablet S. In addition to these
placements,Smart licensed "Chester's Burst Over The Hamptons" for their line of smart
cars in the United States.
Kishi Bashi has since been invited to play in major festivals such as
SXSW and Austin City Limits and gone on
an extensive US tour with supporting acts like The Last Bison,
who happen to be from his native Hampton Roads, Virginia. Kishi Bashi announced a
North American tour for the summer of 2013.
In the Showroom
Doors @ 7:00 PM
Show @ 8:00 PM
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