This CD is the first release by Soemon, an ensemble based in Tokyo and comprising exclusively of koto players. The six pieces presented here are for three to seven koto and bass koto players. All are recent compositions (nothing older than 1991) and Kuribayashi Hideaki's "Honky-Tonk" is a commission of the ensemble. Classifying this record into world music would not be doing it justice, as the music, although definitely exotic-sounding to Western ears and evocative of Japan, is very contemporary and closer to Western modern classical music and avant-garde compositions for ensembles than traditional koto music. Each composer explored the possibilities of multiple kotos sounding together, working with dynamics, harmonics, tuning/detuning, call and response, etc., trying to widen the instruments vocabulary. Beautiful pianissimo textures are obtained on "Oto-Kirata," while "Kiri No Mon" has percussive overtones embedded in an almost romantic composition. A gigantic crescendo ends the rough-edged "Honky-Tonk," another highlight. Soemon gives the koto a new voice by finding its own sound. Unique and beautiful.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture