04 October 2010

Kazumi Nikaido - you dropped something again, didn't you? (2003, Poet Portraits)

Coming from Hiroshima but leaving in Tokyo, Kazumi Nikaido looks and sounds like a strange bird. Her songwriting is quie innocent, candid, naïve and spontaneous. At times it recalls me of Julie Doiron, The Softies, Tenniscoats or even Meredith Monk but it's in fact much more simple and totally deshinibited and natural. She is exotic like Bjork was at the beginning of her career, or like Brigitte Fontaine has always been.

Kazumi Nikaido is a phenomenon, it's better than what it should have been and at the same time this record is completely aleatory, sometimes moving, or irritating, childlike, or even desperate, at times superficial, and later hypersensitive.

I'm unsure about my feelings on this album. I'm very impressed by some of her live renditions available on youtube, but here it is a quieter more opulent affair, often anecdotic and even decorative on most tracks of this album.

But a few of these interpretations / compositions are mysterious, when she slows things down and sings from a more serious perspective, like on  “toki-ga-nagaretemo”, “te-wa-wa-na-ge-sié,  “uti-o-dete-sukosi”, “rai-shuu” and “kaiyubotto”. These five tracks are like another record inside the record. Five tracks on thirteen only but thirty minutes from the fifty ones that constitute this record.

There the quality is much more introspective and subtle, this is the kind of songs where she seems totally lost or in a heavy emotional trance when she's playing live. Here everything si more restraint, pleasant but less offensive.

An interesting album from an out of ordinary Japanese songwriter.


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