Kobudo is an instrumental band composed of Dozan Fujiwara on Shakuhachi flute, Takeshi Senoo on piano and Nobuo Furukawa on cello. Itsukushimi is their latest release. The music definitely lives up to its title, which means “affection.”
Upon first listen, it immediately reminded me of Beauty and the… Beauty. I mean that in every sense of the word. The tandem among the graceful cello, auspicious flute and delightful piano makes one’s heart flutter and dance like a fairy tale. Literally. Starting with the first few notes, each song sounds like something one would expect from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
The strength of the album lies in the perfect harmony of the various instruments. None of the players drown out the others yet each sound remains distinct and commanding. Like the three musketeers, they’re never separated by a few fleeting notes. My favorite is the cello. It lures one in like a soft bed after a long day.
The songs tend to alternate between instrumentals and those featuring vocals from various female singers. I am biased toward vocals so I surprised myself, as I consider track nine the highlight. One can’t help but feel the adventure, a knight galloping valiantly across crisp grass beneath the shining sun. It’s the track that one always notices when its turn comes.
Unfortunately, I don’t speak Japanese so I can’t comment on the lyric songwriting. The fact that I still enjoy it speaks to the excellence of the music. I can sense that the reverse is unlikely.
Ultimately, it’s a good record. I wouldn’t have it on repeat several times in a sitting if it wasn’t. My computer indicates that I have spun this over thirty times, not to mention those in the car. That said, it leaves the listener unsatisfied like a tease. For one, it feels too short. For another, it’s not outstanding. It doesn’t break any new ground. It doesn’t inspire. It is certainly beautiful but only conventionally so. It’s pleasant as background music but lacks the command for one to actually listen to it.
The booklet includes lyrics, notes from the trio and brief biographies of the vocalists.
1. 絆 ki・zu・na (加藤登紀子)
3. 瑠璃色の地球 (夏川りみ)
5. 夏の日 (今井美樹)
6. HOPE AT SUNRISE
7. イツクシミ (上間綾乃)
10. 翼 (林美智子)