KUMD Album Review: Kishi Bashi

Oct 19, 2016

Kishi Bashi | Sonderlust

From time to time an album will arise that is truly a joy to listen to. Sonderlust qualifies. Sonderlust is lead vocalist and violinist Kaoru Ishibashi’s third time at the head of the musical experiment that is Kishi Bashi. Third albums, much like second albums, are often the testing ground for a band’s ability to stay relevant and powerful. The reports are in. Kishi Bashi hasn’t lost its step.

One of the musical choices that make Kishi Bashi stand out is their mixing of the violin and pop rhythms. This is a mission Sonderlust wastes no time in tackling, and to great success at that. This combination, along with Ishibashi’s often haunting vocals, allows the record to easily flow between deep moments and electro-pop punches that make any listener have to work to hold in that smile.

The first track, “m’lover”, is an easy opener. It’s meant to make you feel welcome as you enter the many dynamics of Kishi Bashi’s new project. When listened to on a second or third round through the album,“m’lover” reveals itself to be a teaser of what the album is as a whole: powerful vocals, electronic precision, and instrumentals that can go from whispers to booms within moments.

The album hits its stride at the center of its tracks. “Can’t Let Go, Juno” and “Ode to My Next Life”, the fourth and fifth tracks of this ten track release, are easily Sonderlust’s biggest attention getters. Both songs manage to reach that same level of joy that the album aims for, but both also dive for the emotional depth of an audio tragedy. These songs are valleys, but they’re the kind worth getting lost in.

If “m’lover” is the introduction this record needs, “Honeybody” is the outro to pair. The tenth track starts with a noticeably haunting violin solo, but this is only the launching pad for what may be one of the most joyful beats on Sonderlust. The key to this final track is the vocals. While the instruments provide a great rhythm, Ishibashi’s lyrics are what will make you want to dance.

Sonderlust is a work of genre fluidity. Its ambition to make electronic music its own unique animal, is one many have attempted but few have done successfully. At some moments it seems like a throwback. At some moments it seems like a revolution. All that’s left to wonder is who’s ready for the new age.