Kahondo Style

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Musical boundaries are constantly expanding and being knocked down, and the 1980s saw the line between pop/rock and "new music" becoming harder to distinguish in an increasingly large number of cases.…
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Musical boundaries are constantly expanding and being knocked down, and the 1980s saw the line between pop/rock and "new music" becoming harder to distinguish in an increasingly large number of cases. Kahondo Style were a prime example of a group that cannot be comfortably classified into either "rock" or "avant-garde." The large British ensemble was well-schooled in the avant-garde, but performed quirky, often humorous material that was grounded in the form of songs (as opposed to compositions). A ballpark comparison would be the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, although Kahondo Style was goofier and more lyric-oriented.

Few specific details about this seven-member outfit (originally an octet) made it across the Atlantic, but it's certain that they released at least two albums during the '80s. Green Tea & Crocodiles, from 1987, is their high point, with an eclecticism that incorporates references to '60s spy soundtracks, corny Tin Pan Alley, tango, Asian traditional melodies, and old-school jazz, without sounding pretentious. Kazuko Hohki's childish vocals (which betray an imperfect command of English) have a playful charm, and the songs cover unheralded territories like female werewolves, tongue-in-cheek odes to the English countryside, and meditative contemplations of nature. Certainly Kahondo Style were comparable to little else going on then (or since), though finding their albums in North America will be a difficult task.