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Kazuki Tomokawa, "Blue Water, Red Water"

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cover imageAlthough his reputation as the “screaming philosopher” precedes him, this vastly insufficient nickname does nothing to convey the power and skill of Tomokawa’s singing and songwriting. While the gasping, almost convulsive delivery of some of his lines does of course lend credence to this moniker, everyone seems to overlook his earthy, troubadour voice that carries most of the songs. Backed by a band who seem comfortable playing in a traditional Spanish style (with an Eastern European twist), this album shows Tomokawa at an ever higher peak than usual.

 

P.S.F. Records

Tomokawa is no stranger to vastly moving songwriting (even if only partially appreciated through written translations) but Blue Water, Red Water is a whirlwind of stirring music and passionately sung lyrics. The tone is set from the instant the album starts with “Once I Stared Afar;” the dense metaphysical lyrics (thankfully translated by the ubiquitous Alan Cummings) are allowed to soar on delicately compassionate music. Taro Kanai’s returning role as guitarist for Tomokawa is most welcome, his almost flamenco style reinforcing Tomokawa’s image as the troubadour of the east.

Ayumi Matsui’s sweet violin and Cinorama’s Hiromichi Sakamoto’s delicate cello add an even more melancholic edge to Tomokawa’s already moody compositions. The strings on “Kara Bran” swing back and forth across a lilting piano and tuba motif and Tomokawa’s vocals are at their most ragged. The song climaxes with an exquisite flourish of violin and cello that pull the listener in like a whirlpool. This song is worth the purchase of Blue Water, Red Water alone (but thankfully the rest of the album compares favourably to it).

Few and far between are songwriters who, in their fourth decade of writing and performing, are as resonant now as they have ever been and it is needless to say that Tomokawa is one such artist. Unfortunately, few and far between are affordable Tomokawa releases on these shores so to find this available at a normal price is most welcome. Add to the fact that this is one of the strongest albums of his I have encountered (and indeed a possible contender for album of the year in my book) and I am a very happy bunny.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 21 September 2008 12:23  


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