Kishi Bashi is one of the most beguiling and eccentric performers of our times with a treasure trove as his back catalogue and a wealth of experiences and talents at his fingertips. With that in mind it is little surprise that he could have produced such a mesmerising masterpiece as Omoiyari which will be released at the end of May this year.
Omoiyari for those who don’t have immediate access to Google is a Japanese word that in its essence simply describes the encouragement of kindness, compassion and empathy within your daily life. While this is far from being something that only the Japanese culture has utilised, it is perhaps one of the most widely considered notions there and Japanese people use these in their daily life. Kishi Bashi has taken that notion and built upon it exponentially with Omoiyari so that he can take this core concept and bring it to the world with some more credence that it perhaps once had overseas. It’s a simple enough notion but one that is too readily forgotten or ignored in todays society and it’s refreshing to see how he takes that concept back and brings it back into the spotlight once again.
Kishi Bashi is actually the pseudonym of Virginia-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Kaoru Ishibashi, an immeasurably talented young man with a daring propensity for taking on enigmatic new challenges. He is for example, the only singer you might come across who has actually produced his own line of coffee through the Jittery Joe’s chain. His special coffee Royal Daark Blend each came with an exclusive song download and thus it was he spread his name in one of the most imaginative ways for a world that runs on coffee. A veritable master with the violin, Ishibashi has toured and recorded with scores of well known artists such as Regina Spektor and Sondre Leche as well as spending his times composing, film-making, crafting his own solo work while simultaneously leading his New York band Jupiter One on their unique line of rich electronic rock. With so many projects at hand it’s a wonder when he sleeps, let alone how he has the time and patience to record such an astonishing album as Omoiyari.
Ishibashi has been recording, touring and honing his craft for years now but what really stands out within his solo work is the rich and supple atmosphere that he brings to life. Omoiyari is essentially a restless album, like tossing and turning at night, it is as though it can never quite settle down. This tumultuous lifespan that it faces is so invigorating and uplifting as each song battles to find its place in the world like birds tussling for the best spot on the wire. The reality is that each song is unique and perfect, resplendent in nature and completely and utterly encapsulating. No matter what the topic, no matter what the mood you might find yourself in, as Ishibashi’s music takes you under you simply cannot help but be arrested by his soothing, earnest vocals and orchestral notions. His songs grow and swell with a passion that a thousand orchestras could fail to attain. One such song is Violin Tsunami which is everything you can imagine it to be. A dramatic soundscape of violin melodies that come roaring and crashing together in a breath-taking score comprised of lighting truck violins that makes the world feel like it’s falling down around your ears and yet everything is so peaceful and calm. It’s a mesmerising conceptual piece that feels as warm and natural as the blood pumping in your veins.
The songs that are carefully held within Omoiyari are fascinating and mesmerising in equal measures and no matter the context of their origin or the time and spell in which you hear them, they are always brought to life with a delicate and elegant balance that is in keeping with the richness of his voice. His ineffable charm lets him bring his messages to the world in a way that is less hauntingly melancholy than it is eerily uplifting. By the time his masterpiece closes its curtains with Annie, Heart Thief of the Sea you have found yourself traversing worlds you never knew existed and you are in an entirely new mental state. The world just somehow seems that little bit brighter.
Omoiyari is now available for pre-order HERE
1. Penny Rabbit and Summer Bear
2. F Delano
4. A Song For You
6. Summer of ‘42
7. Theme From Jerome (Forgotten Words)
8. A Meal For Leaves
9. Violin Tsunami
10. Annie, Heart Thief of the Sea
Review by Joe Knipe