The Best of Kodo

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To the uninitiated, all songs on a given Kodo album sound the same. To the initiated, though, subtle differences, as well as broad ones, can be noted. On Best of Kodo, the band cuts loose on a journey through their own history, piecing together a compilation of some of the best tracks in current Japanese music, further still, music in general. The album starts with "Lion," a fast-paced round of drumming and grunting, then moves on, past the flutes of "Irodori," to rest on "Yumi-Ga-Hama," which sounds nearly like something from the Edo period. "Zoku" has a throbbing beat and a quick call-and-response vocal section. "Kazauta" is another of the heartbeat-paced pounding songs, and "Monochrome" is a complicated polyphony of lighter drums. "Yu-Karak II" is almost a conga rhythm, and the album ends on "Yatai Bayashi," which is basically a jam session of Taiko drummers. This album is a perfect place for those new to Taiko to begin, as it gives the full variety of sounds possible under such percussionists. For those that are already fans, it is also a prime pick, as can it hold all of the beauty of an Edo flute song, combining it with every ounce of perfection in rhythm that is the trademark of Kodo's work. Given a good enough stereo system, this album could almost serve as the anthem for a block party, among open-minded citizens, anyway.

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