Top 20 Releases of 2017: No.8 – Hikashu – Anguri

hikashu - anguri

CD, Makigami Records, 2017

One of Japan’s most reliably prolific bands, Hikashu’s near annual releases are always going to be among the year’s highlights. Combining elements of free jazz, no wave, guttural, growling Beefheartian experimentation and a demented yet catchy take on pop, the band have over nearly twenty albums developed into one of the world’s most reliable and assured agents of musical chaos.Anguri

Anguri covers a range with which fans of Hikashu’s recent albums (at least from 2006’s Tenten onwards) will be familiar. Koichi Makigami’s versatile, hyperactive and nonsensical vocalisations take centre stage in tracks like Chakuriku Shinaikei and Zenhoui Ayashige (the latter assisted by fellow vocal weirdos Afrirampo), while at the other extreme the band produce some gorgeous, idiosyncratic pop music. Aisenaiyo Sonnanja comes on all energetic passion and burning spirits like a 1970s boys’ anime theme song filtered through Hikashu’s distinctive prog-jazz internal machinery.

Tomei Sugiruyo and the closing Iishitumon Desune! also sound like lost classics of the 1970s, albeit with a more psychedelic bent. On both, various members are provided with the platform to solo their hearts out, with the former seeing the piano and Makigami’s theremin go wild aand the guitar stealing the show in the latter with the disconcerting way it veers from wailing cock rock to fractured no wave noise.Tsubuyaku Kai

Where Anguri differs from other recent Hikashu albums it is perhaps the way it front-loads some of the most experimental songs and only allows the pop moments to gradually assert themselves as the album nears its halfway point. One of Hikashu’s great strengths, however, is the way that they do both with in a way that’s instantly recognisable as them and no other band, their most freeform and discordant moments always imbied with a sense of fun and their most melodic moments underscored with an experimental, exploratory spirit.

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