Kishi Bashi has announced that his fourth album Omoiyari will be released on May 31via Joyful Noise Recordings (Deerhoof, Tim Kinsella). Channelling the hard-learned lessons of history - and reckoning with the country’s past internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII - the album is an uncompromising musical statement on the turbulent sociopolitical atmosphere of present-day America. The album details arrive alongside the first track to emerge from Omoiyari, ‘Summer Of ’42’, which is streaming now. UK tour dates from Kishi are soon to be announced soon.
Speaking about ‘Summer Of ’42’, which weaves a breath-taking orchestral score over a tale of love and loss, Kishi says; “This is a very important song for me in that it's the finale piece to the symphonic piece I premiered last year. It's a love story set in WWII, about falling in love in an incarceration camp and ultimately losing that love. The significance is that the idea of love, loss, and desire are consistent themes throughout history and help us to empathise with a people in a disconnected past.”
“I was shocked when I saw white supremacy really starting to show its teeth again in America, My parents are immigrants, they came to the United States from Japan post–World War II. As a minority I felt very insecure for the first time in my adult life in this country. I think that was the real trigger for this project.”
Kishi Bashi recognised parallels between the current U.S. administration’s constant talk of walls and bans, and the xenophobic anxieties that led to the forced internment of Japanese-Americans in the months following the attack on Pearl Harbour. So Kishi immersed himself in that period, visiting former prison sites and listening to the stories of survivors, developing musical concepts along the way. The unique creative process will be documented in a companion film, Omoiyari: A Songfilm, scheduled for release in early 2020.
“I didn’t want this project to be about history, but rather the importance of history, and the lessons we can learn,” Kishi Bashi reflects. “I gravitated toward themes of empathy, compassion, and understanding as a way to overcome fear and intolerance. But I had trouble finding an English title for the piece. Omoiyari is a Japanese word. It doesn't necessarily translate as empathy, but it refers to the idea of creating compassion towards other people by thinking about them. I think the idea of omoiyari is the single biggest thing that can help us overcome aggression and conflict.”
The strong conceptual elements of Omoiyari are driven by Kishi Bashi’s captivating musical score. Stepping away from his past loop-based production model, he’s embraced a more collaborative approach, collaborating for the first time with other musicians, such as Mike Savino (aka Tall Tall Trees) and Nick Ogawa (aka Takenobu). Kishi Bashi’s spectacular trademark violin soundscapes are still an essential component of his sound, but the focus of Omoiyari is centred squarely on its songs. The result is his most potent and poignant collection of music to date.
1. Penny Rabbit and Summer Bear
2. F Delano
4. A Song For You
6. Summer of ‘42
7. Theme From Jerome (Forgotten Words)
8. A Meal For Leaves
9. Violin Tsunami
10. Annie, Heart Thief of the Sea