Kan Mikami

Bachi: from Oak Village

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While on a European tour in the winter of 2004, Kan Mikami stopped for two days at the CCAM studio in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France, where engineer François Dietz records most of the albums released by the labels Vand'oeuvre and 33revpermi. Bachi features the Japanese minstrel delivering nine gripping songs, singing and accompanying himself on the electric guitar. Fabrice Eglin joins him on feedback guitar for the closing "9." Mikami has rarely sounded this good: the sound quality is simply fantastic -- nothing gets in the way of the delicate a cappella "Facing the Blossom" -- and his singing reaches a new, deeper level of elementalism. Like Czech singer (and leader of Psí Vojáci) Filip Topol, Mikami sings his very personal conception of the blues, a form of blues that hurts and projects the poetry of its lyrics, despite the language barrier. "Paean to the Snow-Covered Mountains" and "Negative" open the album in folk fashion, but by "The Face of the Three Million Yen Robber" the singer's voice breaks into emotional grunts and shouts, every syllable sending shivers down the listener's spine, as the guitar becomes a weapon of mass instruction in the true meaning of the song format. "Gamo & Danbe" and "Junko" also stand out for the same reasons. One comes out of Bachi feeling satisfied. Despite their short duration (the album clocks in at 21 minutes), these nine songs make up a whole meal. The booklet includes English translations by Alan Cummings of Mikami's lyrics. Recommended.