While noh is well known stereotypically for its elaborate masks and stylized dance, the music of the theater includes some interesting sounds. Showing such is the purpose of this album, part of the old Ocora series of Japanese releases. Here, a presentation of the Stone Bridge is presented, a work by Motomasa from around 1400AD, holding the line of descent from Kannani, the perfecter of the form, through his son Zeami, to his son Motomasa. Thus, it's still within the pinnacle years of the art form. While the choreography and dramatic effects are lost, as well as most of the text for non-Japanese speakers, the music itself shows some intriguing elements. The vocal styles of the lead performer (here, the spirit of a lion guarding the Bodhisattva's' paradise) have relations to shomyo chanting, among other things. The use of the mask creates a somewhat otherworldly acoustic aspect to the singing, enveloping the sound as a whole in a fog of unrealism as it were. This is only heightened by the sparse percussion and interjective kakegoe from the drum troupe within the performance. It makes for a highly enticing sound, though mysterious. Worth a listen for those curious about the performances, though the visual aspects would certainly be desirable as well.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg