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Koenji Hyakkei


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Koenji Hyakkei Nivraym album cover
3.88 | 98 ratings | 11 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Nivraym (5:40)
2. Becttem Pollt (5:21)
3. Lussesoggi Zomn (10:26)
4. Vissqaguell (5:31)
5. Mederro Passquirr (6:23)
6. Axall Hasck (6:34)
7. Maschtervoz (4:10)
8. Gassttrumm (9:24)
9. Vallczeremdoss (4:49)

Total Time: 58:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Nami Sagara / vocals
- Jin Harada / electric & acoustic guitars
- Kenichi Oguchi / keyboards
- Kengo Sakamoto / bass, vocals
- Tatsuya Yoshida / drums, vocals

- Keiko Komori / soprano sax, bass clarinet
- Taku Yabuki / keyboards
- AH / vocals

Note: The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

CD Magaibutsu ‎- MGC-18 (2001, Japan)
CD Skin Graft Records ‎- GR95CD (2009, US) Remixed and remastered

Thanks to ProgLucky; DamoXt7942 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy KOENJI HYAKKEI Nivraym Music

KOENJI HYAKKEI Nivraym ratings distribution

(98 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

KOENJI HYAKKEI Nivraym reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Steve Hegede
4 stars Shit, this is a CD that grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go. For those of you who are not familiar with these guys, KOENJI HYAKKEI is the Zeuhl-obsessed side-project from RUINS drummer Tatsuya Yoshida. His main source of inspiration is the French group MAGMA, but Tatsuya takes those MAGMA influences to the edges of insanity. Add to that the frenzied bass and synth work from France's ESKATON, and the vocal weirdness from Italy's AREA, and you're in for some crazed prog rock.

The energy level throughout the CD doesn't slow down for a minute as you ears get blasted by Kobaian-like chanting, sections galore of maniac yet cartoonish guitar/synth/bass work, and rhythms that change almost every 4-8 measures. The second track "Becttem Pollt" has got to be one of the best prog rock compositions of the past decade. The instrumental section in the middle is so intense, and proggy, that you might even have to stop the CD to catch your breath. The one problem that I had with the last KOENJI HYAKKEI album, Viva Koenji!, was that, after the first track, the rest of the music really wasn't that memorable. Well, NIVRAYM, I'm happy to report, is not only more complex than its predecessor but is catchy from beginning to end. I can't find a weak track here. Overall, if you're into RIO, Zeuhl, avant-garde prog you definitely have to check this CD out.

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yoshida Tatsuya has never made any secret of his love for Zeuhl, and nowhere is this more obvious than on his work with Koenji Hyakkei, which he once said he intended to be the Japanese Magma. This album more than delivers on that promise, and is one of the most exciting and accessible projects he has ever been involved with.

Right from the outset this album will bring a smile to the face of any Zeuhl head - a bubbling bass line, nano second precise cymbal crashes and massed male and female vocals call to mind some of Magma's jazzier excursions, although on the title track there are a couple of diversions into Ruins style mayhem that Christian Vander would never include on a mainstream release. The vocals are in an invented language (not Kobaian, although it sounds similar) which further adds to the occasional feeling that this is an out take from a lost Magma session. This is not simply a rehashing of Magma's finest moments, however - there are enough original touches to let you know that Koenji Hyakkei are a band with their own ideas and agenda. Synthesisiers are used far more extensively than on most Magma releases, while the guitarst occasionally gets to cut loose with some downright dirty rock sounds where Vander (who often leaves guitar out altogether) would favour a cleaner, jazz oriented tone. More than anything else, what sets Koenji Hyakkei apart is their sheer sense of urgency. The longest track on this album, Lussesoggi Zomn, clocks in at just over 10 minutes, but feels like one of Magma's lengthier excursions compressed to about a quarter of its original length. They even manage to include an ever ascending scale ( a neat inversion of the ever descending scale in Kohntarkohsz). There's also a sense of fun (not humour, exactly, but the feeling that the musicians are cracking huge grins at each other as they trade lightspeed licks) that is often absent from the core Zeuhl acts.

This album is recommended to anyone into virtusoic playing and the wilder side of avant prog. The labyrinthine twists and turns, with sudden shifts in tempo and dynamics, will leave you slack jawed with astonishment, while any one of these 9 pieces will leave 2 or 3 fragments of melody reverberating around your skull for days after you've listened to it. This is by no means just for Zeuhl fans - open minded fans of just about any sub genre should find plenty to enjoy on here, between the highly symphonic keyboard sounds, the piledriving rhythms, the jazzy chord patterns and the general atmosphere of a group of highly skilled players doing exactly what they do best and loving every minute of it. Subarashii desu!

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars.The way this album ends from tracks six through 9 is incredible. They have a guest keyboard player (Oguchi Kenichi) who plays for KENSO and also played on Yoshida's other band RUINS "Symphonica" record. A female soprano vocalist has been added as well.

"Nivraym" features tribal-like drumming with guitar and vocals. Half way through the vocals get a little crazy and the sounds get dissonant before returning to the original sound. Great opening song. "Becttem Pollt" has uptempo instrumental sections, while the vocals range from slow to fast. This song is often chaotic. "Lussesoggi Zomn" is the first song with the soprano female vocals as they join the piano to begin with before a full sound comes in. This contrast continues. We get some organ 2 minutes in and I really like the instrumental passage after 5 minutes. The song ends as it began. This is the best song so far. "Vissqauell" is an uptempo track with guitar and lots of drums and vocals. The vocals can be a little tough to listen to at times on this one.

"Mederro Passquirr" has a great rhythm to it as male vocals and pounding drums arrive a minute in. Female soprano vocals come in 2 1/2 minutes in and she can really let it rip. Good song although the vocals are again challenging. "Axall Hasck" has some fantastic instrumental music on it. The bass, guitar and drums shine. Female vocals arrive 1 1/2 minutes in. The bass and female vocals in particular are outstanding. "Maschtervoz" opens with spoken words and gentle guitar that are blown out by a heavy soundscape including vocals. This contrast continues. We get some Vander-like vocals with some excellent guitar to follow. "Gassttrumm" features some heavy, dark sounds including deeper vocals that work great with the high pitch female vocals. Some nice keyboard work followed by guitar that signals a change as it slows right down. Vibraphone comes in and powerful drums as pace picks back up. "Vallczeremdoss" builds as guitar and drums are prominant early before bass and vocals take the spotlight.

I have never been a big fan of frantic, chaotic music no matter how well it is played. Great way to end the album though.

Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars A beautiful outer world.

Forgive me but this is my first KOENJIHYAKKEI's album. And besides, I've listened only to d Wd by MAGMA about Zeuhl music. As honestly I say, a few years ago I couldn't understand Magma and Zeuhl scene. Surprisingly KOENJIHYAKKEI, with a heavier style than Magma (IMHO), could let me know a brilliant view about Zeuhl. As I've expressed as an outer world, this scene seems to be an outside one or fantasia. Please don't misunderstand me, and let me say I could go on a trip for one of fantastic lands, named Koenji Temple. Like Magma, in KOENJIHYAKKEI two female vocalists (in this album) should be important and impressive. Highly pitched voices by them are the shining star for this work...of course then, all members' voice are well-balanced. Well I wanna say...the important point should be their strict and sharp-edged rhythm section, especially Tatsuya Yoshida's drumming. Otherwise they would be an eccentric chorus group. :-)

In this 2009 NIVRAYM are three additional players, Keiko Komori (soprano sax, bass clarinet), Taku Yabuki (keyboards), AH (vocals). In the first track, in particular, NIVRAYM Keiko's clarinet can bloom out flashily and brilliantly over remarkably complex beats. AH's voice can make all songs more massive and more gorgeous I suggest.

I apologize to you all that I've not listened to previous (original) edition yet and cannot compare (in near future I'll do absolutely!), but now I guess the current edition would get heavier and crazier than the original one.

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars I came into this album after hearing ANGHERR SHISSPA first. I was amused at the (slightly) more accessible tone of the music and various RIO moments in the songs; those that travel in the other direction will wonder where the guitars went and where the fusion elements came in.

Koenjihyakkei is a band that is not easy to get into; I remember spouting on my ANGHERR SHISSPA review of how this album should be the first Koenjihyakkei one acquire should you be interested in the band. If you don't have much affinity for fusion, then that could be true. However, one must have a little leniency towards some avant-garde things; otherwise the effort is futile.

This band can be a novelty of sorts; in fact, after about a year of intense listening, I feel that the novelty of NIVRAYM has somewhat worn out. There's only so much crazy riffing, superfluous keyboard lines, over-the-top drumming, furious polyrhythms and bizarre words that I can take. Hearing the first two Koenjihyakkei albums after this put this point in perspective; NIVRAYM introduces little new things into the Koenjihyakkei sound.

There are some ''classics'' here that are worth listening to like the title track, ''Axall Hasck'', ''Vallczeremdoss'' and ''Lussesoggi Zomn''. It's still great for a Koenjihyakkei introduction, but once other albums enter the library, NIVRAYM is nothing more than a backburner album, even if it's still awesome.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars Crumbs almighty! How do you review an album like this? Things begin with vocals that seem totally out of synch with the instrumental parts - and you're left thinking - was that deliberate...? Koenjihyakkei's third album is another triumph, but beware all you Zeuhl fans - it's really heavy going and full in your face. Thankfully there's a lot of playfulness involved due to the presence of female voices but it still sounds totally crazed. Very similar to the follow up 'Ni' but not quite so deranged. I can't help thinking that this is how a Japanese 'Laibach' would have sounded if they let themselves go. I can't imagine many folk liking this due to its sheer intensity, but I love it! Most listeners will have to be in a particular frame of mind before hearing this recording as it's a full on experience. Personally I love this kind of madness and it makes me feel happy, so there!
Review by TheGazzardian
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.

Review by Warthur
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.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars They're back! and with a line-up that includes not one or two but three new musicians. Brace yourself! (And please, anyone with any kind of heart conditions: Proceed with extreme caution!)

1. "Nivraym" (5:40) I'm sorry, but as virtuosic as these instrumentalists/vocalists may be, I cannot hear this song without thinking that their whole Zeuhl shtick is mostly tongue-in-cheek. Crazy but how can you not appreciate the skills and confidence involved in creating and performing this music? (9.5/10)

2. "Becttem Pollt" (5:21) powerful and dramatic if a little too uniform and one-dimensional. (8.75/10)

3. "Lussesoggi Zomn" (10:26) I think they hired NINA HAGEN for this one! Simple sparse notes from piano and bass with Nami going crazy. The band coalesces into a fast-driving heavy rock ensemble for the second and third minutes as Japanese versions of Kobaia take on a variety of crazed and crazy forms. Definitely Zeuhlish. I wonder what Christian Vander thinks. Guitar solo is more rock-like than Zeuhl, but it is short-lived as band slips into several different Zeuhl motifs before we have a chance to integrate what we've just heard. Incredible confidence to practice, perfect, and record this piece of complex music. (Though it is not perfect: there are performance flaws. But, what do you expect for a band's first effort with this lineup--three new members?) Several sections are over-extended a bit, but, otherwise, this is mind-boggling stuff. Nami Sagara is a force! (17.75/20)

4. "Vissqaguell" (5:31) several tracks are very heavy on the distortion (I think intentionally), and the pace of this one is amazing. It makes Christian V. & Co. really seem slow and old! There are so many incredible exploits here: vocally, keyboards, drums and bass, guitars. How does one write such material? (8.75/10)

5. "Mederro Passquirr" (6:23) a little more grounded in Western styles (drumming, synth sound choices, electric guitar work, straightforward bass), this one still shocks and surprises. What a keyboard player! At 1:20 things settle into an almost Broadway choral piece--with simple piano chords providing the main direction for the elaborate choral performances. This is more MAGMA-like familiar Zeuhl. I like it but it's not as exciting or innovative as the previous songs. Highly intricate vocal demands from the fifth minute on--almost Leonard Bernstein-like. (8.75/10)

6. "Axall Hasck" (6:34) synths and Mellotron leading this one as more straightforward (though wickedly fast) bass, guitar, drums, voice, and sax try to keep up. It's like a race to catch the keyboard rabbit. Only the off-trail sax has a chance, veering in and out of the weave, until the half way point when everybody downshifts from overdrive to 5th gear--and then at 3:30 when there is another downshift into a kind of Latin rhythm while Nami solos. The keyboards' solos that follow are more human--though the bass, sax, and drums now begin to go off on their own crazed frenetic path--which only incites the synth to take the lead back across the finish line. (8.75/10)

7. "Maschtervoz" (4:10) are they tiring? Slower and more spacious--only the sax is in the usual zone of amphetamine. Nami and Jin and Kenichi are fairly subdued compared to their previous selves. It sure does showcase Keiko's sax, though. (8.25/10)

8. "Gassttrumm (9:24) again, the reins are on as the band proceeds in a much more controlled, humanly pace--though still incredibly intricately constructed and performed. At the two minute mark there is a slight shift for searing synth solo before a shift into space Zeuhl with some wild drumming beneath the synth and vocal melody line. It's like a conversation between the synth and the drummer with the rest of the band providing support and context. Very cool! Now at the end of the fourth minute the bass gets a turn to let loose with the drummer. Another synth turn, bass and drums, synth, etc. all the while the vocalists At 5:20 there is a sudden right turn into macho Western man territory while bass, guitar riff, and drums support the soloing synthesizer player--this time with a much more familiar prog-like solo ripping up the soundwaves. Man this guy can play! With 90 seconds to play we shift back into a more breakneck straight ahead speed before another oddly computer-like epithet and then an unexpectedly cohesive finish. Amazing song. (18.5/20)

9. "Vallczeremdoss" (4:49) more controlled whole band weave opens this one--until the second minute when the choral vocals enter--then things go time wonky--nothing staying the same for more than a measure or two. How do they do it? How does a whole band stay on course with this kind of intricacy? And then what follows--the voices trying to keep up with the instruments--is simply unbelievable! (9.75/10)

Total Time: 58:18

B+/4.5 stars; an absolutely astonishing display of compositional brilliance with nearly as astonishing performances. In fact, that would be my only criticism of the music on this album: sometimes it just seems too much of a stretch for any human to perform to perfection! Still, an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. Just be prepared: you're heart- and breathing rates will be elevated for quite a while during and after listening to this album!

Latest members reviews

5 stars Another amazing album of this Japanese band. Is my last aquisition and I heard some tracks in live concert in Gouveia festival. Very strong ritm and another work that Zheul go to limit of insane but we can see some Magma parts in this work. Female voice not so classic that other albuns but very ... (read more)

Report this review (#243644) | Posted by Joo Paulo | Thursday, October 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the most "acessible" of the three first studio albums from Koenji Hyakkei. The use of keyboards is very clever and puts this band in another plane, not a simple "Magma meets godzilla" cover band. Heavy riffs from the guitar put Koenji Hyakkei in touch with modern trends in the avant-gard ... (read more)

Report this review (#138878) | Posted by moodyxadi | Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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