Chiyomi Yamada & baobab - Songs of my Land

Review Chiyomi Yamada & baobab - Songs of my Land

Can traditional Japanese tunes be complemented, expanded and merged with Western sounds? On her latest album Songs Of My Land, Japanese singer Chiyomi Yamada and the equally Japanese folk band baobab dare to try. With interesting results.

Perhaps some traditionalists on the Asian archipelago will see Chiyomi Yamada & baobab's attempt to mix ancient Japanese melodies with Western sounds as sacrilege. This is exactly what Songs Of My Land does, on which the trained classical soprano Yamada illuminates the possibilities, which she does astonishingly well.

What is exciting about Songs Of My Land is not only the general exoticism, which reveals itself in many facets to the European-trained ear, but above all the mixture of the music. Yamada breaks through the traditional nature of her songs with many facets that she borrows from elsewhere. There are echoes of jazz in Otemoyan, Muko Yokocho alternates between Japanese and Irish folklore, Gioshoya is reminiscent of Mongolian khoomei at times. There are cymbal rolls and percussion rhythms, in Haiya-bushi a fiddle carries the melody of the song...

But even more surprising than the apparent foreignness is the fact that it is often impossible to tell where one culture begins and the other ends, that the transitions are so fluid and the integration so natural that the universality of the music and the affinity of all its interpreters and interpretations is evident.

Perhaps the formal success is also due to the musician's sensitive approach. Songs Of My Land is a homage to the ancient Japanese folk song, to the mysterious Shinto spirituality and to the people who have been celebrating life and love on this land with their songs for thousands of years, according to the information accompanying the album. This is certainly a bit of marketing balbla, but the attempt described cannot be completely dismissed.

Songs Of My Land is also of high acoustic quality. Mixed in a balanced way, the album shines with exceptional transparency. It is easy to hear through and its sound is fine and almost delicate in the dramatic moments. There are no annoying beeps or over-discanting, so that the drama of the moment remains solely located in the expression of the music - just where it belongs.

The fact that Songs Of My Land by Chiyomi Yamada & baobab is delivered exclusively as a studio master in 192 kHz and 24 bit is only logical, as no facet, no matter how subtle, is lost.

A real pleasure album. (Thomas Semmler, HighResMac)

Chiyomi Yamada, vocals
maika, vocals, fiddles, viola, rebec
Mirai Matsumoto, guitars, kokle, citole, vocals
Naoya Wada, bass, flutes, gittern
Tsuyoshi Maeda, taiko, shinobue, suzu
Yosuke Watanabe, drums, percussion

Chiyomi Yamada & baobab - Songs of my Land

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