A little something slightly off the beaten track for The Shaman here as Mehata Sentimental Legend from, where else, Japan dish up ten tracks of wonky, woozy psychedelic haze with a definite traditional Japanese music bent. The more traditional sounds of thin, whining flutes, slightly atonal – to our western ears – stringed instruments and deep, dramatic percussion are cut, stretched and sliced out into warped new shapes by Mehata, welded to processing techniques, FX and good ol’ fashioned NOISE – albeit of a tightly reined-in nature – to create this ‘radical fusion of old Japanese ritual music and futuristic psychedelic noise’, to quote the man himself.
So it is that we move from the percussive warping, shrill flute and lysergic brain scrubbing of opener ‘Noum-Hisyou-Jyaodori’ through the subtle-yet-tense new-age flavour of ‘Noum-Hinowa-Hagoromo’ – replete with the sounds of a babbling stream – and into the hallucinogenic looping pulse and techno-trance rhythm of ‘Noum-Showa-Kourin’ in a thoroughly natural, yet oddly alien-sounding flow.
Mehata’s treatment of the sounds is such that he throws the ear of the westerner off-balance with his source material alone, let alone with the final kaleidoscopic outcome of his mangling and twisting. Everything is decidedly askew.
Some pieces are not so ‘solid’ as others, having a decidedly abstract feel – the ghostly warble of ‘Noum-Rinsetsu-Shidare’ and the short-but-sweet flute and percussion loop of ‘Theme Of Mehata Sentimental Legend’ being prime examples.
The harsher side of Mehata’s sound is best displayed on ‘Noum-Zeccyou’ itself which shifts from a quiet drone into a wall of violent abrasive treated percussive sound without warning. Crashing metallic cymbals take on the audio qualities of sandpaper to the ear canal, riven with violent cuts.
Nowhere else is this sheer level of noise achieved and that fact alone makes its deployment here all the more visceral. Ending on a subdued, somewhat pastoral note with ‘Noum-Hayou-Yuuhi’ Mehata brings our journey to a close in a much more soothing fashion that that which came before.
As I said at the start, Noum Zeccyou is something of a change for us here at The Sleeping Shaman, as far as musical palettes go, and while it may not be to everyone’s taste Japanophiles and those of you with a hankering for something that covers the ground between subtlety and abrasion may find much here to enjoy.
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Scribed by: Paul Robertson