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Koenjihyakkei - Nivraym CD (album) cover





3.85 | 68 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars There are two versions of Nivraym, the original release and a 2009 re-release with some additions made. The version I have and am basing this review on is the 2009 release.

This, my friends, is Zeuhl on caffeine. The genre has always been a bit out there, but Koenjihyakkei have blended with it a bit of punk energy, leading to loud, fast, energetic compositions. The aural palate here is varied, but drummer and mastermind Tatsuya Yoshida's drumming is one of the highlights. His drumming is chaotic, yet it is the backbone of the music and what holds it all together. I said it in my review of "Angherr Shispa" and I'll say it again; this band has mastered "controlled chaos". And Yoshida's drumming is the chaos in control.

At the forefront of the music, we have the vocals, which are in typical Zeuhl fashion operatic, dramatic, and very often repetitive. The language is made up so don't try and figure out what they're saying. This album has a lot of very gifted vocalists, both female and male with very powerful voices, which is good because if they were not strong singers their voices would be lost under the rest of the instruments, with the drums, keys, guitars and reeds bouncing from melody to melody.

And that's one of the crazy things, is that despite all the noise in it, this music is actually at it's root melodic. It's complex, and there's a lot of different things going on at once, but the melodies are what make this music so listenable. That, and the drama created by the stark shifts in speed/intensity. There is also a level of beauty to how the music leads the listener forward; the music is a maze that feels like a straight path. (Well, once you get a grasp on it, that is - be prepared to give this a few listens first!)

This is my second Koenjihyakkei album, the first being Angherr Shispa, and I must admit that the two are very similar. At this point in their career, Koenjihyakkei have their sound pretty well figured out. In terms of quality, the two are pretty close as well. The only flaw with this one I would say is that the squealy saxophones are not used as well as they are in the follow-up; here, they seem to go against the flow of the music a bit more than in Angherr Shispa, where they are more tightly integrated. But this is only apparent in one or two places on the album.

TheGazzardian | 4/5 |


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