Asa Chang & Junray, Jun Ray Song Chang (Leaf)
reviewed by anna battista
What is a haiku? A haiku is one of the most important forms of traditional
Japanese poetry, a 17-syllable wee poem consisting of three metrical units
of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Haiku-poems can describe anything and they always
contain a kigo, a season word, which indicates in which season the Haiku is
set. What would happen if somebody would try to create musical haikus? You
can stop wondering 'cos we've found the answer in Asa Chang & Junray's
album Jun Ray Song Chang.
Ex-leader of Japanese cult band Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Asa Chang
has joined forces with tabla master U-Zhaan, programmer Hidehiko Urayama
and mixmaster Kiyoshi Kusaka to donate you the 11 tracks contained in "Jung
Ray Song Chang". The album is an epical haiku, unpredictable, hypnotic and
exotic with tracks that sound set in different seasons thanks to winter-y
oppressing oboes, samples of pit patting autumnal rain, spring-like fluid
flutes and summer-ish harmonies. The first track, "Hana" begins with an
almost lounge intro, then turns into a heart-ripping melody on which
fractured voices mumbling in Japanese can be heard, while bongos and tablas
build layer by layer a dramatic soundscape; "Preach" is a mess of trumpets
and crazy voices and sounds like a dirge a la Goran Bregovic played on a
broken record player while "Goo-Gung-Gung" sounds like the music from a
Japanese video game on speed. Honourable mention goes to the
trans-electro-d'n'b of "Kokoni Sachiari".
Some of the best haiku-poems describe daily situations in a special way so
that the reader will have a brand new experience of a well-known situation.
And that's what Asa Chang is doing, giving the listener a new experimental
perspective on music with harmonica, tablas, altohorns, patterns of
traditional Japanese music, samples of unintelligible voices that often
sound like a horde of Star Wars Ewoks quarrelling and sinuous "One Thousand
And One Night"-like melodies mixed with tarantellas.
If you think Japan has only given us comics, cartoons, fancy designers and
the Hello Kitty craze, you're wrong. It has also given us Asa Chang and his
mad experimentalism. Bless him.
Asa chang site: www.riverrun.co.jp/asa-chang
Leaf Label site: www.posteverything.com/leaf
Issue 13, April 2003 | next article