Megan Cahill attended Kishi Bashi’s show here in Portland this past fall. Check out her review of it below.
I did not have many expectations when seeing Kishi Bashi Live, expect to be fully captivated and transformed by the experience entirely. I have listened to Kishi Bashi since their first full album release in 2012 with songs like “Atticus, In the Desert”, and “Bright Whites” which became some of my favorite songs still to this day.
What I appreciate most about this power duo, who have become even more powerful since they announced their recent engagement, is their unique style and voice. They have found a way to not only record an incredible new album but also gave creative breath when performed live with experimental beatboxing and electronic influences. On songs like “F, Delano” that are recorded as a heartfelt melody, Kishi Bashi reinvents it with improvisational beats from his violin to create an electrotonically influenced thrum that bounced off the walls of the Roseland Theater.
For Kishi Bashi, Omoiyari is an ode to his bicultural upbringing and his parents who immigrated from Japan after WWII. The stage and music were entrenched in Japanese influences from painted scenes of cranes walking in tall grasses to his song “Theme from Jerome (forgotten words)” which is sung mostly in Japanese. It summarizes his childhood and roots in American lands, as well as his struggle to connect with his Japanese roots while being raised ‘on the sundried land’ which only favors homogenized and white culture.
“There was a girl
She fell in love
And on the sundried land
They settled in and started again
And when they’d sleep
She’d sing this melody
To her beloved sons
Forgotten words from Japan”
This album is more than an ode for his parents. It speaks about the current political climate in the world which ignited internment camps after Pearl Harbor in 1941, with Trumps ‘Wall Call’ to separating POC families with immigration statues. Omoiyari has plans past music and is currently in the works of a film releasing later this year in 2020.
To close, the couple played songs from their first album in their dramatic and euphonic glory. Harmonized colloquial and just. Their style has always leaned into its mystical storytelling which symphonically lead their listeners on tales of finding new lands, all-encompassing love with embracing old and new. Kishi Bashi himself is clearly influenced by classical beginnings but has carved a niche set that couples electronic and sampled sounds that creates an entirely nuanced collection. It has been a joyous ride to see where his creativity has taken him so far, and I am excited to see where his sound will take him next.