Tuesday, 18 March 2008

deux groupe de ringo

Hatsuiku Status

Never let it be said that Ringo doesn't love her fans. Whilst her large Gekokujyo Xstasy tour was going on, she still had time to form this ferocious girl band and tour the small livehouses. Considering those who can not go to the big shows and playing all new material which never appeared elsewhere. An act of extreme kindness. Ringo wielding Bass and vocals, and the band also consisted of Tabuchi Hisako, Murata Junko, Torii Yasunobu, and Yoshimura Yuka. As for their sound, well some particular naysayers have claimed they are merely "Fugazi Rip-offs" well I don't know what a Fugazi is. I bet it's some big italian ego band without even a tenth of Ringo's talent, and I bet they only tour big places.

Tokyo Jihen

Comprised of snap-neck bass wizz Seiji Kameda, guitar alchemist Ukigumo, percussive entity Hata Toshiki and Chopin's spiritual successor Izawa Ichiyou - not forgetting Ringo herself, of course - Jihen are Shiina's crack team of militant musicians who seem dead set, album upon album, on bringing down the dams by which genres are defined and musics seperated. Virtuosos one and all, as a band they are godly - but there is still an incredible lesson to be learned when a bandmember goes into his solo part and you realise "fuck, that's a HUMAN? I thought it was just good studio engineering!". But nevertheless it is so - Ringo's band are as live and raw as Husker Du were on Land Speed Record, yet musically competent enough to beat the 70s jazz fusion deities at their own game a million times over.

This unit was formed by Ringo after she blew a kiss to her solo efforts and decided that a band was the best way to realise her musical visions. While Ella Fitzgerald had always been a longtime influence and jazz songwriting always a big part of Ringo's style, Tokyo Jihen really takes her love of jazz to new highs. It is clear that the great bop masters have beared their mark upon these guys - Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Red Garland - along with the classic crooners such as Frank Sinatra (Ringo has covered his classic "The Lady Is A Tramp"). Even hints of free jazz are prevalent in the Jihen musical equation - the Coleman touch is present, along with late Coltrane, Paul Bley and jazzers from her home country such as Kaoru Abe and Masayuki Takayanagi.

And it doesn't stop at jazz. The fury of Ringo's arrangements calls to mind classic post punk outfits such as Wire along with technical death metal as recently practiced by bands such as Gorguts. Dabs of soul and other black musics also decorate the album.

Jihen have been honing their unique approach to music over the years, presenting new evolutions of their sound with the release of every album (each one cleverly titled after genres of television broadcasting, such as Adult, Variety and Education) and today are unmistakeable the only real rock and roll band going. And the presence of Ringo alone is certainly worth the price of admission, eh?

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