Various Artists

Samurai Collection

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AllMusic Review by

Combining the philosophy and spirit of the Samurai culture, this impressive collection features an eclectic sampling of traditional and contemporary Japanese music. The hottest talent from record label Pacific Moon is featured here, such as Uttara-Kuru, traditional drum-master Kiyoshi Yoshida, and the ethereal vocalist Eri Sugai. Even with the small number of contributors, this recording has surprising range in both texture and mood. Uttara-Kuru songs are the most varied, as shown on "Wings Of The Eagle," a muscular, aggressive track that uses the shakuhachi flute as a metaphor for the cry of the eagle while heavy drums propel the song to an uplifting climax. By contrast, "Tsugaru," uses deep, guttural Buddhist chants over a driving techno beat. Uttara-Kuru's sound is like a musically ambitious cross between Kitaro and Depeche Mode. Meanwhile, Kiyoshi Yoshida is a fiery traditionalist whose "Rising Sun" will send shivers up the listener's spine thanks to his pounding drums and lush production. Eri Sugai is featured on "Konjaku Monogatari" and her breathy vocals and searing high notes will compel listeners to seek out her debut recording MAI.

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