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Meitei ~ Kofū III | a closer listen

Написано на 28.11.2023

Back in 2020, we believed Kofū to be the end of a trilogy when it was instead the beginning of a new one.  Kofū III concludes Meitei‘s mighty opus, and switches from the electronic realm to the field of experimental ambience, a metaphor for the journey that the artist, and perhaps the nation has made.

The album may begin with “Dawn” and end with “Hiroshima,” but it’s not dour.  Meitei is referring to today‘s Hiroshima, thriving in a manner that few would have thought possible, despite its ghosts.  The artist makes his home in “the tranquil rural town of Onomichi.”  The location has provided the chance to reflect on Japan’s history and culture, demonstrated on prior releases in the series, similarly drenched in folklore and tradition.  Over the course of the series, and especially on its final installment, Meitei has striven to find his way to peace.

“Peace” (“Heiwa”) is in fact the title of the penultimate piece, but its former title was “1945.”  This change alone reflects the distance traveled.  Pensive piano, gentle static and a sense of tranquility characterize the album’s first single, which bears a light electronic beat, the most obvious aural link to Kofū and Kofū II.  The closer, “Hiroshima,” is a plea to define the area in terms other than destruction; while the crackles suggest radiation, the bright tone proposes a new outlook.  Over time, Hiroshima has transcended its history; in Kofū III, Meitei has conquered his own demons.

Meitei’s charm remains intact as he continues to dive into “lost Japanese moods.”  “Reimei” is a pastoral reflection on Hiroshima’s countryside, with abraded horns joining whistles and cautious ivories.  A stringed motif connects the album with its predecessors; one feels as if one is looking through a Viewfinder at scratched slides.  “Mange-kyō” (“Kaleidoscope”) extends this wondrous association. “Yume-jūya” is extended with a curious, morphing video that betrays its genesis as a dream; everything seen seems on the verge of slipping away.  The piece also honors a tale of the same name by Soseki Natsume.  “Fujin” (“Woman”) has an amusing timbre; in the playful piano, one can hear a woman tiptoeing quietly from a house, then dancing as she exits under the full moon.  “Edogawa Ranpo” is a tribute to the phantasmagorical author, its unusual electronics mirroring the disorienting source material.

Whether the subject is tattoos or Japanese candles, literature or folklore, Meitei transforms lost memories into wishful, playful pieces, a tonal shift from prior installments.  When the mood lands on peace, one feels a sense of arrival.  We recommend all three installments, presented in similar packaging with copious notes.  Also of interest: the 5th anniversary reissue of Kwaidan, with a CD option for the first time.  We love an artist who tells us stories; whatever comes next, trilogy or standalone work, we’ll be listening.  (Richard Allen)

2020’s Kofū began a new era for Meitei, transitioning from electronic to ambient music, with influential themes and cultural connections.

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