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KOENJIHYAKKEI

Zeuhl • Japan


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Koenjihyakkei biography
Take MAGMA, AREA and ELP at their most excessive, feed them an overdose of caffeine and you'll get the gist of what KOENJIHYAKKEI sound like. Or imagine the speed of DEUS EX MACHINA and then add many more tempo changes and musical ideas. Anyone not ready for some insane, amphetamine-driven prog are advised to stay clear of this foursome. As for others, they're in for the musical roller coaster of their lives. Headed by vocalist, composer and drummer extraordinaire Tatsuya Yoshida, this Zeuhl quartet is an offshoot of Japanese cult duo RUINS. In addition to RUINS' own bassist Shigekazu Kuwahara and drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, KOENJIHYAKKEI also feature excellent female vocalist/keyboardist Aki Kubota (who is replaced by Nami Sagara on their third album). From the second album on, Shigekazu Kuwahara was replaced by Sakamoto Kengo on bass and vocals. The third album also saw the addition of Keiko Komori on reeds and AH on vocals, as well as keyboard contributions by Taku Yabuki (now the keyboard player for the band).

All of the group's albums are insanely hyper, all exploding with flashy keyboard lines, intricate death-metal guitar riffs, speedy, convoluted bass/drum patterns, operatic female vocals that border on apocalyptic war cries and chanted in a language of their own (a nod to MAGMA); all this combined with a superhuman technique and catchy, complex arrangements. As of 2010, the group has released four albums and four DVDs. The current lineup is Tatsuya Yoshida (drums, vocals), Kengo Sakamoto (bass, vocals), Keiko Komori (reeds), Taku Yabuki (keyboards) and AH (vocals). The newest DVD includes two new songs not yet available on any studio albums.

If you like bizarre, wild and zany prog such as MAGMA, Mr. BUNGLE or PRIMUS, you'll have your hands, ears and a few other things full with these guys. Definitely recommended.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : : with updates from SaltyJon

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Buy KOENJIHYAKKEI Music


Viva KoenjiViva Koenji
Skin Graft Records 2006
Audio CD$9.69
$5.90 (used)
NivraymNivraym
Remastered
Skin Graft Records 2009
Audio CD$9.69
$1.87 (used)
Hundred Sights of KoenjiHundred Sights of Koenji
Remastered
Skin Graft Records 2008
Audio CD$11.56
$4.85 (used)
Angherr ShisspaAngherr Shisspa
Skin Graft Records 2005
Audio CD$11.84
$80.12 (used)
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KOENJIHYAKKEI discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KOENJIHYAKKEI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 61 ratings
Hundred Sights of Koenji
1994
3.91 | 70 ratings
2 (ni), AKA Viva Koenji!
1997
3.81 | 53 ratings
Nivraym
2001
3.94 | 114 ratings
Angherr Shisspa
2005

KOENJIHYAKKEI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

KOENJIHYAKKEI Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

5.00 | 3 ratings
Live At The Star Pine's Cafe
2002
4.08 | 6 ratings
Koenjihyakkei Live At Doors
2006
4.00 | 2 ratings
070531
2008
5.00 | 2 ratings
Live at Koenji High
2010

KOENJIHYAKKEI Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

KOENJIHYAKKEI Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

KOENJIHYAKKEI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hundred Sights of Koenji by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.81 | 61 ratings

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Hundred Sights of Koenji
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Among the most chaotic bands ever to step on a live stage, KoenjiHyakkei started in early-90's as a side-project by two members of Ruins, drummer Tatsuya Yoshida and his fellow guitarist Ryuichi Masuda.The translation of the band's name is ''Hundred sights Of Koenji'', where Koenji stands for an area of Tokyo.The original line-up consisted also of keyboardist Aki Kubota and future-Pochakaite Malko Shigekazu Kuwahara on bass.The self-titled debut of the band was recorded at GOK Sound Studio in Kichijoji, Tokyo, holding of sound engineer Yoshiaki Kondo, between April and May 1994.It was released the same year on the God Mountain label.

KoenjiHyakkei's style was heavily influenced by MAGMA'S enigmatic Zeuhl style and sung in an unknown language, recalling CHRISTIAN VANDER's Kobaian form.The music though is far more chaotic and frenetic compared to MAGMA, incorporating elements from Hardcore Punk, Opera and Prog/Fusion to a schizophenic mix of furious rhythms, melodramatic vocals and endless breaks.Very complex and extremely technical material with tons of throbbing bass lines and superfast drumming with unusual rhythmic changes, surrounded by bizarre keyboard lines in a supporting role.Masuda's guitars are the dominant instrument though.With a punchy, powerful, almost KING CRIMSON-esque style, he fills the tracks with edgy, groovy parts and extreme solos in high gears.The vocals are a matter of taste, somewhere between Opera and theatre in a dramatic or even humurous fashion, reminiscent of the Zeuhl movement.There are also plenty of bombastic, almost orchestral sections, similar to RUNAWAY TOTEM, where the complicated keyboards are in evidence, offering quirky exercises next to the always pounding rhythm section.

Music created to stay away from the mass of commercial listeners.Ultra-complex, satirical, role-playing Progressive Rock with angular, grandiose deliveries structured into chaotic, haunting and forward-thinking pieces.Recommended.

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 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.94 | 114 ratings

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Angherr Shisspa
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Koenjihyakkei's latest studio album finds the band angling to a more fusion-oriented variety of Zeuhl - appropriately enough given the jazzy origins of the genre's founder band Magma, but in this case the move to fusion seems to be a deliberate attempt to evolve the band's sound in a somewhat more sedate direction than the absolutely frenzied Koenji albums of the past. Far from sounding like the completely out of control maniacs of previous albums, this time around the performers provide tight, disciplined performances which yield the most accessible album from the group so far. New listeners should definitely consider starting here.

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 Hundred Sights of Koenji by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.81 | 61 ratings

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Hundred Sights of Koenji
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars Their first recording is my last to review. To be quite honest, it's just as brilliant as the other three. Completely unhinged frantic vocals coupled with some real muscle in the form of frantic, erratic drums and bass make this another unforgettable album from these Jap masters of the genre.

Koenjihyakkei were clearly the only band that could ever leave Magma sobbing in a corner, due to their colossal confrontational stance. They are as hard as nails and luckily had the recording technology to capture their power in tact.

Sounding like Magma's fidgety spoilt brat twin, it wails and screams. You know the type - the ones that throw milk bottles from their prams into startled mothers faces.

'100 Sighs of Koenji' has a lot more guitars present than future releases where they are gradually replaced by keyboards. This album will either give you a splitting headache or will leave you grinning like Cheshire cat... like me.

The only downside to this great band is the fact that their albums all start to sound a bit similar to each other - as if they've taken things as far as they can and end up battering their heads off of a brick wall in frustration. Maybe that's why they've been silent for the last 5 years...

With no apparent news of a break up I eagerly await something new from probably the best prog band of the last 15 years.

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 Nivraym by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.81 | 53 ratings

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Nivraym
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Koenjihyakkei follow up the marvellous Viva Koenji! with yet another slice of hyperactive zeuhl fusion. This time around, I can't say it measures up to its predecessor - on my copy, at least, the sound quality is rather muzzy and murky, and whilst I suppose this might be a deliberate aesthetic decision on the band's part it seems more like a genuine mistake. Despite this mild setback, the band continue to impress both with their technical ability and their sheer audacity, and few other groups can seem so in control in the midst of utter chaos as Koenji. Three and a half stars.

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 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.94 | 114 ratings

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Angherr Shisspa
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars 'Koenjihyakkei' go 'Bela Bartok' crazy. At times this album is so annoying that it's funny, with its furious percussion, drumming and helter skelter vocals by females who sound like they've got a red hot poker up the jacksie.

'Angherr Shisspa' is as disordered and bonkers as their previous outings, but once again is somehow prevented from disintegrating into a puddle of sludge due to the precise drumming and confrontational bass which throbs at the forefront. The whole recording is as hard as nails, so don't expect an easy laid back affair here.

I much prefer 'Koenjihyakkei' to their other current running band 'Ruins' who sound far more stripped down and minimal unlike this cacophony.

This is definitely not one to play on a first date, that's for sure! 'Koenjihyakkei' are one of the most extreme bands you'll read about on the prog archives. They're loud, brash, concise and batter their instruments with real intention. This is one of those cd's you'll play that makes you laugh out loud or burst out crying in frustration.

Thankfully I'm of the former and I'm still laughing with eyes bulging out, like two white snooker balls protruding from my face.

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 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.94 | 114 ratings

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Angherr Shisspa
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

4 stars When Magma Isn't Crazy Enough For You

You took the plunge and tried Zeuhl. It was a little bitter. There were some spices you didn't recognize. The texture made you just slightly nauseous at first but now you want a little of it with every meal. You've digested MDK, dug the modern versions, even sampled some of the more casual stylings like Udu Wudu. After some months or eons, your brain is actually comfortable with the style. How do you possible challenge yourself now?

For many of us, the next stage was ANGHERR SHISSPA. Koenjihyakkei's masterwork is unmistakebly Zeuhl, totally indebted to Magma. At the same time, the band has clearly explored the sound well enough to now place their own stamp on the land of Kobaia. Most obviously, this music is even more intense, chaotic, and somewhat harsh. The orchestration is also a little more immediate, feeling more like a rock band than a classical orchestra. The mix is a bit drier in accords with modern standards. At the same time, the big fuzz bass is still here, the gang vocals, the intense drumming. Even if the music might be a little too much even for some Magma fans, you can't deny that this band totally tearing it up.

There is also a bit less of the throbbing repetition that I associate with Magma, and I appreciate that. The sense of occasional composition is more chamber rock than the free- form jazz, another contrast to the parent band. The musicianship is top notch, and much tighter than the looser 70's jazz ethic as well. The melodic forms are remarkably the same, and you may catch yourself trying to place a phrase or section in the Magma classic catalog. As such, this is the perfect next step after Magma.

There are times that I put this on and I can't finish it. It's just too much. But when I have a taste for intense, complex, quirky, and crazy. This hits the spot.

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 2 (ni), AKA Viva Koenji! by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.91 | 70 ratings

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2 (ni), AKA Viva Koenji!
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It all comes together for Koenjihyakkei on Viva Koenji, which takes all the ingredients of their debut album, cranks them up to 11 and mashes them together in a chaotic fury to present a tempestuous and complex variety of Zeuhl. With guitar work at points verging on metal, vocals at points verging on hysterics, and compositions verging on the ridiculous, this is a furious and fast-paced album which will take multiple listens to digest - not least because you'll have your work cut out for you keeping up with what's going on! This is far from a relaxing listen - in fact, it's pretty exhausting - but it's truly worth it for any zeuhl fan.

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 Hundred Sights of Koenji by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.81 | 61 ratings

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Hundred Sights of Koenji
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The debut Koenjihyakkei album is quite transparently constructed as a tribute to the classic Magma sound, with the use of vocals and martial rhythms being cribbed from the key Magma albums more or less directly. Whilst the album doesn't feel especially original, it is at least both a loyal and a competently performed tribute to its great inspiration, with particularly good percussion work from band leader Yoshida, who has clearly studied the work of Christian Vander in sufficient detail to construct this loving and painstaking reconstruction of the Magma sound circa Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh or Kohntarkosz. However, this time around at least I don't detect enough of an individual spin on the zeuhl sound which in my view is needed if an album such as this is to rise above three stars.

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 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.94 | 114 ratings

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Angherr Shisspa
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Canterzeuhl

4 stars 3.5/5 - An uncompromising, brilliant piece of work, but only consumable in small doses.

This album is insane. Pretty much from the first few suspenseful notes on 'Tziidall Raszhisst' you sense you're in for a bit of an ear-bashing. Koenjihyakkei's style of eclectic musicianship really is a wonder to behold and if they're as good on stage really they'd be the best band in the world, and this album is a testament to how good they are at playing. The relentless noise, perfect musicianship and sophisticated rhythms constantly phasing in and out really stand out. And the vocals! Impossible to describe. Try to imagine a female soprano in a washing machine, that's the best analogy I can think of. Has to be heard to be believed.

The title track deserves a special mention as it seems to take the whole album to another level, raising the tempo of the album and really waking you up to what music can be! Should be played in schools and public forums (Although when I've tried it I've been overwhelmed by angry responses.)

However, it's brilliance at cornering this utterly mental end of the market is it's downfall for me. I find it too stressful to listen to the whole album from start to finish so I've mostly only heard it in a fragmented form. It's gone full circle. It's so good it's bad.

It's essential, but only in small doses.

3.5, rounded up because I'm nice.

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 Nivraym by KOENJIHYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.81 | 53 ratings

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Nivraym
Koenjihyakkei Zeuhl

Review by TheGazzardian
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.

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