Kan Mikami


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In the '90s Japanese underground music scene, the psychedelic rock and folk of the '60s American and British scene provided inspiration for many Japanese artist and groups. Many of them express their love for such music in adopting the forms, yet retain a distinctive Japanese edge to the music. Kan Mikami is somewhat of legend in the small but highly prolific Tokyo scene. He is one of the few artists in pursuit of a music entirely his own. A powerful and unique singer/songwriter who's only peer would be Keiji Haino, similarly he is inspired by western rock, folk, and blues forms, yet the music is much more in the tradition of a Japanese avant-garde. His music is blues, but not a blues from the American Delta but distinctively Japanese. His surrealist, often angular music is defined by his distinctive and astonishing voice. On this brilliantly recorded 1996 album, Tim Buckley, Captain Beefheart, and Skip Spence spring to mind, and Kan Mikami's voice is a flexible and powerful as either, using vocal chords as an expressive instrument. Accompaniment is kept to a bare minimum on Actress, and Kan Mikami uses his spiked guitar bursts as minimal accents to his anguished voice. While it may be given that the non-Japanese listener cannot expect profound text, it must also be noted that even Japanese people struggle to decipher his lyrics as they are sung in a rarely spoken dialect -- not to mention consumed the passion of his delivery. The sound of his voice does not only suffice, but takes on a pure expression whereby the sonic qualities of his voice are so profound he goes beyond language.