What would you say happens when the West meets the East in terms of sound? All I can say is that it’s simply magic. Usually the most amazing things come from the most unexpected places. In this particular case we’re seeing a union of nigh-ancient Japanese musical styles blended with a unique strain of experimental progressive music with Western roots. Namely, the idiosyncratic collaboration between Junko Ueda, PoiL and Ni bassist, Benoit Lecomte. If you’re not familiar with PoiL, the French band toys around with a rock oriented kind of mix, which aims at pushing boundaries, stopping at virtually nothing to convey a striking and one of a kind vision. Similarly Ni, fiddle with striking and odd ideas to a great effect. Junko Ueda, the final piece in this wild trifecta, brings to the table the epic story telling tradition of assisted by satsuma-biwa and via shomyo Buddhist style chants too. If you aren’t like, instantly sold on this, then I guess this isn’t the thing you’re looking for.
Let me just spell it out now – the song this ensemble brings forth is nothing short of amazing. “Kokô – Final scene of ‘Ataka’” is among other things, the epitome of how this kind of fusion was meant to occur. You could never legitimately say you envisioned the piece in any other way once you heard it. My first contact with the stirring and immersive character of this musical experience came through the first song this iteration of musicians put forth, “Dan no Ura“, which I obviously recommend checking out alongside this new song. I believe the most compelling aspect of the music, aside its truly surreal character is the insanely enthralling personality of it, which is all encompassing and envelops the listener entirely. It’s like a veritable transportation device for the consciousness, sending it into wherever and whatever all of this is. I say it in such a plastic manner as words are simply futile in this situation. It’s impossible to describe the effect and breadth of the journey we go through over the course of “Kokô – Final scene of ‘Ataka’”.
The visual accompaniment, which comes in the form of the band playing it, is probably the best thing in terms of a snug fit. You can literally feel the performance, aside from seeing it. It is immediately obvious we are dealing with high level musicians as well as the types of musicians who are consummate performers. I know it may sound a little stretched to say consummate, but I think that in spite of the subtle visual, we see this aspect unveil itself through all the details. These people are living and breathing their performance in a way that they are one with it.
The only thing left for you to do, if you made it this far, is to check out that song, because it is a riveting experience. Make sure to follow Junko Ueda, PoiL, and Ni, if what you heard is to your liking.