Tsuyoshi Domoto

Bigaku

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    7
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Also part of the massively popular duo Kinki Kids, Tsuyoshi Domoto has a strong following in his solo career, experimenting with sounds that simply wouldn't be heard in the usual realm of his boy band-centric label, Johnny's Entertainment. On Bigaku (aka My Beautiful Sky), Domoto shows just those sounds. The album opens with the title track, a dark instrumental centered around koto and shakuhachi that eventually morphs into a disorganized bit of electronica. It's an outstandingly unexpected way to open a set, and points toward other innovations deeper within. "Talk to Myself" follows, a fittingly sparse composition that's half-sung, half-whispered. A bit of a nostalgic ballad form shows up in "Sudeki na Uta Kodoka no Uta," a hyper-dramatic cadence that shifts from solo vocals to something much more grandiose in "Ameno Yumi," and there's a surprising amount of electric guitar holding up "Nippon," with a vocal melody that could have been taken from a Ken Hirai pop number. A couple of additional ballads fill the middle of the album, showing a relatively vulnerable side of Domoto's vocals, accentuated by relatively sparse piano accompaniment. Toward the end of the album, Domoto unveils a funkier side in "Raindrop Funky" and "Funkful Funkful," both including heavy doses of electric funk guitar and bass under relatively mild vocals. The album finishes on the excellent and bluesy "Purple Stage." It's a nice outing for Domoto, showing off sides unrelated to his previous work and opening up listeners to something new in the process.