Monday, April 23, 2012

A Little Refresher on Asian music~

Greetings Ravers! BlueMenpachi here joining in on My Fave Rave with Aaron and Wimplo.

For my first rave, I decided to take a step back and re-ignite my passion with Asian music.
After seeing Kara's MV "Step" and Big Bang's MV "Fantastic Baby" I felt as if the KPop industry is becoming SO materialistic.
With all of the glitz and glam of KPop and JPop, with their good looks, flashy clothes and catchy lyrics, I felt like I was losing sight of what real music was.
I'm not saying that 2NE1 or See-Saw doesn't sing good music.
I'm a huge fan of Asian music and I love almost any Japanese, Korean or Chinese song I hear.
But after all the high pitches and repetitive lyrics of love, happiness or heartbreak; or the constant monotone raps and the WUB WUB WUB and UNTS UNTS UNTS in the new age Asian music, I needed a break...

You know that feeling you get, when you listen to a song, that gives you chills every time you listen to it?

That one song, that when you close your eyes you picture a whole different world in your head where you understand everything?

That one song, where it makes you feel like you can fight for something worth while in this boring and routine world?

That one song, where it stirs your spirit to the point you become breathless?

Take a step back and remember these three artists:
(For the sake of simplicity, I'll introduce them first name first and last name last)


The Yoshida Brothers (or Yoshida Kyoudai)

and Hikaru Utada

These three artists, are who started my absolute love for Japanese music.

Shame on you if you've never dipped into their music.

Rin' and the Yoshida Brothers are kind of in a category all their own. With their mixes of traditional Japanese music and modern pop music, they are sure to ignite that flame within you.

A big portion of Rin''s songs are instrumental; such as "Genji" and "Jikuu" but songs like "Kamen" and "Sakura Sakura"... They pluck at those hidden koto strings strung across your heart.
Their song "Fuhen" is another such piece that just wells up within your soul. (It was also used as the ending song in 2004 anime, Samurai 7)
Even their rendition of "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" is another such song.

Their main instruments are the koto, shamisen and jushichi-gen (17-strings), played by Chie Arai

and Mana Yoshinaga

and the biwa and shakuhachi, played by Tomoca Nagasu
With amazing vocals given from all three girls.

On a little side note, their first live tour that they did back in 2004 is one I will never forget.
No auto-tune or synthesizers used for their voices. Just raw vocals that gave me a zen like feeling throughout the performance. Chie's solo made me close my eyes and it felt like I was IN Japan. And Tomoca's and Mana's duet... Talk about chicken skin.

Back to Rin', their music has such an elegant feel to the way they play their instruments. The precise harmonies they hit together with their vocals, to the controlled and well placed strums of the koto, shamisen and biwa, the three members make their group sound like ten.
Every note is another heart chord being played.
They make the music come to life.
The second artist I would like to bring to the light are the Yoshida Brothers.
The eldest brother, Ryouichiro Yoshida and the younger brother Kenichi Yoshida (not to be confused the animator Kenichi Yoshida) are the deadly duo when it comes to mixing the shamisen with modern pop and rock.

(Kenichi on the left and Ryouichiro on the right)

They even give a traditional Irish feel in "Lullaby of Takeda".

On a side note, if you are a fan of the Wii, you should know that the Yoshida Brothers song "Kodo (Inside the Sun remix)" was the song the used for the first commercials introducing the Wii.

To me, the Yoshida Brothers music have that same feeling as Rin', where it gives you that feeling of zen, found in pieces like "By This River" and "Fuyu no Sakura".
But also, in some of their pieces, you feel that strong, raw, traditional Japanese music coursing through your veins with the power of modern pop and rock. "Rising" is the perfect example of such a mixture!

They can also strip down to their roots in their shamisen only piece "Kodo".

The power in this piece! Words cannot describe it.
Although they do not provide any vocals, the Yoshida Brothers still manage to make their shamisen come to life!
The last artist I would like to 'rave' about is Hikaru Utada.
To me, she is Japan's greatest vocalist. Her top hits like "First Love", "Hikari" and "Beautiful World" (which is featured in the re-build of the Evangelion series)
Her lyrics are SO poetic.

"Riding the wind, reaching to the moon
My seat is right next to yours
Suddenly returning to myself, I feel dizzy
It's like a spring night dream" (from Travelling)

"The swaying flames paint my dreams tonight
The tip of your brush isn't dried up?" (from Colors)

All of her lyrics feel like poetry wrapping itself around you. Like you can actually FEEL her WORDS.
Her ballad "Final Distance" stirs that melancholy feeling while still giving you that bit of hope with her ending vocal.

And her song "Hikari" with the English version titled "Simple and Clean" (which made it's US debut along with the Kingdom Hearts game back in 2002) will never be forgotten.

Her music videos like "Passion"

and "Sakura Drops"

are like fantasies come to life.

But Utada can also strip down for a bit and show her simple sides in MVs such as "Hikari"

and "Goodbye Happiness"

I love her so much~
I'm so sad she's on hiatus... But even great singers need time to themselves.

Well, that's it for my fave rave today.
Had to express my love for music in some way, right?

BlueMenpachi signing off!
Ja matta ne~

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