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KOENJI HYAKKEI

Zeuhl • Japan


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Koenji Hyakkei picture
Koenji Hyakkei biography
Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1991

Take MAGMA, AREA and ELP at their most excessive, feed them an overdose of caffeine and you'll get the gist of what KOENJI HYAKKEI 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, KOENJI HYAKKEI 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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Angherr Shisspa RevisitedAngherr Shisspa Revisited
Skin Graft Records 2019
$21.63
$25.87 (used)
DhorimviskhaDhorimviskha
Skin Graft Records 2018
$15.99
$27.94 (used)
NivraymNivraym
Harmonia Mundi 2001
$198.56
$132.36 (used)

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KOENJI HYAKKEI discography


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

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

3.87 | 88 ratings
Hundred Sights Of Koenji
1994
4.05 | 94 ratings
弌 (Two) [Aka: Viva Koenji !]
1997
3.88 | 82 ratings
Nivraym
2001
3.99 | 146 ratings
Angherr Shisspa
2005
3.83 | 58 ratings
Dhorimviskha
2018

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

KOENJI HYAKKEI Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

5.00 | 6 ratings
Live At The Star Pine's Cafe
2002
4.07 | 9 ratings
Koenjihyakkei Live At Doors
2006
4.48 | 3 ratings
070531
2008
4.93 | 6 ratings
Live at Koenji High
2010

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

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

KOENJI HYAKKEI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Dhorimviskha by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.83 | 58 ratings

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Dhorimviskha
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

3 stars The album "Dhorimviskha" created by a brilliant Japanese Zeuhl project KOENJI HYAKKEI has been released into the progressive rock scene in the summer 2018. Every track has an eccentric title (don't know what manner they give such a funky title to a track in), weird melody lines, complicated rhythmic bases, or incredibly technical instrument activities. Surely you can feel it should be an enjoyable creation as well. Or let me say, you can run away from the real serious world through the material in this opus definitely.

They use multi-rhythmic phrases in a repetitive manner, based upon critical drumming, seasoned fantastically with Ah's high-tone voices, Keiko's funkadelic wind instrument plays, Kengo's deep, deeper bass tones, Kei's speedy guitar storm, and Taku's sincere jazzy keyboard shower. Their serious, positive, delightful play is crazy great indeed, even in a incredibly sound bizarre, and the frontman Tatsuya YOSHIDA should be crazy nasty at the drumming or percussion without doubt ... yes without any doubt. Wondering how they launch a novelty different from previous material, and for me sounds more of technique or strength, and less of creativity nor potentiality.

Of course, their performance upon stage drives you mad. I'm looking forward to their gig along with this magnificent album ... yikes.

 Dhorimviskha by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.83 | 58 ratings

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Dhorimviskha
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Ever since Christian Vander introduced the world to a new bizarre form of jazzy rock that contained seeds of alien contacts in his band Magma, many of the most extreme and adventurous musicians of the entire world have followed in his footsteps and added their own stamp on the crazy musical world that has become known as zeuhl. While many of these bands have come from Vander's native France, this bizarre field in fusion paradise has also attracted many others from around the world but perhaps no other nation has been so interested in adding their signature mind bending freakery to the style more than Japan and perhaps the single individual who has contributed the most to zeuhl's evolution in the 21st century is the indefatigable Tatsuya Yoshida (吉田達也) who has kept several plates spinning with his admirable Ruins, Ruinzhatova and Akaten (amongst many many other endeavors). However without a doubt the most ambitious of his projects has to be the hyperactively absurd musical smorgasbord of KOENJI HYAKKEI (高円寺百景).

While KOENJI HYAKKEI (高円寺百景) released their debut album "Hundred Sights Of Koenji" (the literal meaning of the band name) all the way back in 1994, this band hasn't exactly been the most prolific of Yoshida's projects since only four albums were released between the debut and 2005. While seemingly disbanded, like a good Godzilla movie, this monstrous musical beast has returned a full 13 years later with another brutally delicious extreme zeuhl piece of work in the form of DHORIMVISHKA which finds Tatsuya returning on drums and vocals along with bassist Sakamoto Kengo and woodwind maestro Komori Keiko. Joining the cast is keyboardist Yabuki Taku, guitarist and vocalist Koganemaru Kei and vocalist "Ah" Yamamoto Kyoto. Anyone familiar with KOENJI HYAKKEI (高円寺百景) will surely be aware of their unhinged adventurous nature and with this new cleverly crafted edition to their ongoing legacy, the band concoct one of the most adventurous and labyrinthine albums of their entire existence with the expected bubbling zeuhl rhythms bursting with obsessively frenetic time signature workouts, virtuosic instrumental attacks and some of the most over-the-top operatic vocals you could ever hope for.

If bands like Magma were like introductions to an alien civilization with gentle melodic developments that slowly ratcheted up to crescendoes, then KOENJI HYAKKEI (高円寺百景) is more like an extraterrestrial attack where every cadence and every measure of sonic possibility is a crescendo as if everything were turned up way to 11 and the extrem-o-meter was set for "mind melt." As with previous albums, DHORIMVISHKA is simply uncompromising in its relentless angular bouncing from one adrenaline fueled track to another. While the term brutal prog is a rather recent appellation that simply describes of brand of progressive rock that nurtures all the progressive accoutrements lavishly and takes them all to their logical extremities, this indeed is THE signature attribute for one of Japan's most unusually energetic musical troops as they accrue a unique zeuhl inspired flow embellished by percussive pummelation usually reserved for extreme metal and vocal gymnastics that sounds like someone spiked the divas drinks with high quality and long lasting methamphetamines that allow them to do unthinkable performances at breakneck speed.

DHORIMVISHKA is divided into seven lengthy tracks ranging from the six to twelve minute mark with each finding its own unique expressiveness but share the hyperactive overdrive antics. The star of the show is clearly vocalist Yamamoto Kyoto as she whizzes up and down the operatic scales flawlessly as the pummeling percussive drive plods along in conjunct with the excessive distortion of guitar riffs and solos, brash bass bravado and the unique mix of saxophone and clarinet attacks. The music is as wild and utterly unhinged as music can be and is as weird as the freaky track titles such as "Palbeth Tissilaq" and "Zjindhaiq" indicate. It goes without saying that this is extremely highly complex music but it is in reality exaggerated out of fairly easy to digest and humble beginnings. The melodies are well established, the rhythms are consistent and the deviations happen at a deliberate calculated pace so that the overall sense of order doesn't completely devolve into utter chaos.

For those who love the zeuhl rock opera sound that mixes and melds the expected marital and repetitive rhythmic percussive drive with larger than life chanted vocals in wordless or at least alien language form in a trance-like minimalism only laced with the excessive bombast of guitar runs, overweening saxophone squawks, glass shattering vocal antics and aggressive time signature and tempo changes, then you've come to the right slice of an alternative reality with KOENJI HYAKKEI (高円寺百景) who continues their unique trend of splicing and dicing zeuhl realities with avant-prog angular abstraction to create an edifice of powerful extreme prog that recognizes no boundaries. And whose only mission is to pummel the senses into utter submission like a blitzkrieg of sonic freneticism that attacks like a swarm of angry hornets. Despite this over the top bout with complexity, it's absolutely amazing how KOENJI HYAKKEI (高円寺百景) adds a sense of firm control over the monster of their making like a lion tamer in a circus with only a small whip and a whole heap of confidence to keep it all from going terribly awry. KOENJI HYAKKEI (高円寺百景) are back with a vengeance and Tokyo will never be the same!

 Dhorimviskha by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.83 | 58 ratings

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Dhorimviskha
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Norbert

5 stars Dhorimvishka is the fifth studio album of Japanese Zeuhl/Avant band Koenjihyakkei. I usually trie to curb my enthusiasm when it comes to rating and reviewing new releases to allow for a cooling off period, but the new album of Koenjihyakkei deserves attention (well, all Koenjihyakkei albums do.). I was already very excited when I learned about the release of this album, their last studio effort was released in 2005, quite a long time ago. The albums artwork for the mini LP sleeve is probably their most beautiful to date, and I considered the track listing very encouraging. 7 tracks in 61 minutes, and as a general rule the 8-10 minute long compositons of Koenjihyakkei are often the best. Koenjihyakkey is a sextet here, the soaring lead vocals of the lady called Ah (aka Yamamoto Kyoko) are accompanied by the chants of the male band members, mastermind and world class drummer Yoshida Tatsuya, longtime bassist Sakamoto Kengo, and new guitar player Koganemaru Kei. The band is complete with the keyboards of Yabuki Teku and the woodwinds of the other lady Komori Keiko. As always the musicanship is of the highest calibre (not only the drumming.), and Ah has an impressive range. The music basically Zeuhl, but with more twist that French legend Magma. There are influences from symphonic music, jazzrock, metal, hardcore punk, and even from soul music (the second track Levhorm). The seven compositions are full of complexity, breaks, tempo changes, and dyamic contrasts, but the arrangements are very well structured, this music is controlled chaos from finest! This music comes very hyperactive and excessiv accross, especially at first listening, but there are more laid back jazz-like and even acoustic moments, and there is a healthy dose of catchyness, and fortunately they do not take themselfes too seriously. Certainly, 2-3 listenings are nothing to explore this album, but with more than a week experience I may conclude that all 7 tracks are very good, there are no kind of filler tracks, like on some of their earlier albums. Maybe this is even my favourite Koenjihyakkei album so far.

 弌 (Two) [Aka: Viva Koenji !] by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.05 | 94 ratings

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弌 (Two) [Aka: Viva Koenji !]
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Tapfret
Special Collaborator Eclectic & C/JRF Prog Team

4 stars The Zeuhl bloom of 1990's Japan appeared explosive from my vantage point across the sea. One of the most important figures, one might even use an overblown term like "The Godfather of Japanese Zeuhl", was percussionist Tatsuya Yoshida. As the creator of Ruins, what was likely the best known Zeuhl act in the country and progenitor of the movement, Tatsuya set out on a more diverse undertaking than the 2-man act he was previously known for. The result was Koenjihyakkei. Here we find their second album which I will refer to as Viva Koenji!! since that is the part of the cover I can read, likely the most accessible Koenjihyakkei album to this point.

At risk of overusing the term, this album opens in explosive fashion. Right out of the gate Viva Koenji!! shows that the comparative diversity to Ruins does not come at the cost of energy. The similarities between the two bands are obvious and numerous. Vocally the album is preached with the administration of syllabic rhythms of an unknown, seemingly alien language; a perhaps a sort of omni-lingual Esperanto, very similar if not exactly the language used in Ruins. I have honestly not researched the actual spoken words deeply enough to know. In any case, this linguistic set comes from a larger chorus that consists of two female voices that on this album is keyboardist Aki Kubota overdubbed in recording, and three male backing vocals. It is clear that the female vocal is the intended lead, with the male vocals either harmonizing or providing background orcish grunts and chants. Later manifestations and live performances would have multiple female vox on board. Stylistically the is an obvious leaning to the operatic tonality that is the Zeuhl formula on either continent where it is semi-popularized. The vocals alternate between dominant manic sequences and the drawn out clear legatos. The compositional themes are rhythmically dynamic, but do not employ any poly-metrics. Guitars are distorted but not to metal levels. Keyboards employ the use of organ and piano sounds with the occasional moogy waveforms. The overall presentation is complex but accessible, dark but energetic, and dynamic but deliberate.

Later Koenjihyakkei would employ more Rock in Opposition style rhythmic abnormality and instrumental dissonance. That likely makes Viva Koenji!! the most accessible of their albums to this point. Therefore it is highly recommended as an entry point to Koenjihyakkei's music, and in fact, the Japanese Zeuhl scene as a whole. I also recommend as a companion to this album the live DVD Live at Doors which features a number of songs from their first four albums including Viva Koenji!! as a good transition to their more challenging albums.

A very excellent album that would be a fine addition to any prog collection. 4 stars

 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.99 | 146 ratings

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Angherr Shisspa
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by marcobrusa

4 stars Like 7 years ago i discovered Koenji through this site. So many thanks. This is their only album i could listen many times since then, because it's their most accesible one. It is unstoppable, original, and challenging. No more guitars in the instrumentation; sounds softer (but it is still crazy anyways). Try to find something as crazy as this, i dare you! In fact, it's so eccentric that it tired me after repeated listens. However, i keep coming back every now and then, because it's quality is undeniable. The arrangements have many sharp edges that may hurt some people, be careful with the volume and your state of mind if you are going to play this album. Almost 4 stars, rounded up. It may surprise you at first, but then it's too much for repeated listens. Remarkable anyways.
 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.99 | 146 ratings

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Angherr Shisspa
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If this is your first exposure to the controlled mayhem of Koenjihyakkei, brace yourself. Progressive rock doesn't often cut this close to the jugular vein, or do so with such dispassionate madness. Imagine a serial rampage by an Asian Jack the Ripper, with a surgical degree to match his mental instability. Now put that image to music, and turn up the volume.

Christian Vander's MAGMA is the obvious inspiration, right down to the arcane invented vocabulary. But the Japanese translation was made with a near-lethal jolt of added voltage: lightning-fast RIO phrases, repeated and swapped for the next one on a never ending musical treadmill, all with crazed operatic vocalizing (not singing) and pinpoint instrumental virtuosity. The entire assembly was then set to the cadence and rhythm of a Dr. Seuss story as imagined under the influence of acid, amphetamines, and a red-hot cattle prod up the stern.

The effect is equally amazing and irritating, usually at the same time. The collective rigor, stamina, and mathematical precision of the quintet can be awe-inspiring, but the effort also leaches much of the life out of the music. There's something cold, almost mechanical, in the band's affectionate embezzlement of the classic Magma style, at times reducing it to an academic exercise in dot-to-dot Zeuhl tracery: the Prog Rock equivalent of Andy Warhol's soup can reproductions. A couple of flubs might have warmed the music up, and made it a little more human.

On the other side of the coin: secondhand weirdness can sometimes be even more attractively weird than the original. That's a good thing for those of us who enjoy a musical challenge, and here's an album that certainly qualifies: a musical double-dare to meet at your own peril.

 Live at Koenji High by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover DVD/Video, 2010
4.93 | 6 ratings

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Live at Koenji High
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars The main attraction of this release is the inclusion of two previously unreleased songs that have yet to be released in studio versions, even five years later. The two songs are both up to the standard of the band's previous material, and wouldn't have felt out of place on Angherr Shisspa. As for the other tracks, they're mostly drawn from Angherr Shisspa (there are also two tracks from Nivraym) and they're performed up to the band's expected high standard live. The sound quality is ok, not great; the recording quality is fine, but it's encoded as .ac3 audio with a cutoff at around 17 kHz. It's not clear why the band chose to encode the audio this way as the concert is only 65 minutes long and higher quality audio would easily have fit. Regardless, there isn't anything to complain about here as far as the actual material goes. If you're a Koenjihyakkei or zeuhl fan, you need to hear this.
 070531 by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover DVD/Video, 2008
4.48 | 3 ratings

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070531
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars Koenjihyakkei devote the first half of this recording to an extended improvisational jam. It's divided into six tracks, but those divisions are almost arbitrary; there are really only two gaps in the improvisation, so the divisions were probably done to give each track a similar running time. The improvisation is a bit more dissonant than most of the band's material, but it's surprisingly coherent for an improvisation and doesn't get boring to listen to.

The remaining material is mostly drawn from the band's two most recent albums ("Sunna Zarioki" comes from the début), and is frequently given extended workouts here with lengthier introductions and other flourishes not present on the studio versions. The performances are full of the usual virtuosity one would expect from these veterans, and many of these versions exceed the quality of the studio releases. The only caveat is the sound quality, as the audio was encoded as .ac3 and has a cutoff of high frequencies. Nonetheless, strongly recommended.

 Hundred Sights Of Koenji by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.87 | 88 ratings

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Hundred Sights Of Koenji
Koenji Hyakkei Zeuhl

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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.

 Angherr Shisspa by KOENJI HYAKKEI album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.99 | 146 ratings

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Angherr Shisspa
Koenji Hyakkei 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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