Yoshida Brothers – MOVE

5 out of 5

Label: Victor

Produced by: 青木章雄

This is… intense. On the Yoshida Brothers’ debut, Ibuki, the recording seemed to function – logically, but without much flourish – as a showcase for their dueling shamisens, and their modernized Tsugaru-jamisen music. It’s an engaging sound, but I think requires some framing to know what to expect, and even with that, the album maybe doesn’t have much range.

MOVE, their followup, while still very stripped down in terms of instrumentation – there’s the addition of some minimal percussion – is a huge leap forward in composition, as the eight tracks here are, firstly, incredibly varied, ranging from Ibuki’s intricate playing, to more laid back affairs, and then epic build-ups as on the title track; and secondly, the disc acts like a proper album, stitching together a thorough run of emotive moments via this relative minimalism – with some occasional vocal hoots and hollers. I suppose that last statement is a little ignorant, suggesting music like this isn’t possible of crafting mood, but, yeah: the status quo set by Ibuki was one of pleasant, paced playing. I’d heard later, more flourished Yoshida Brothers’ material, but it was hard to imagine a precursor to that – limited mainly to the shamisens – that could achieve a similar effect. And while I’ll admit that MOVE maybe takes a couple listens to get there (to really hear how much is going on), once you’ve attuned to what’s going on, I go back to that opening descriptor: intense. The album is addictive, and immersive, and when the brothers do unleash those hoots and hollers, it makes complete sense – as both a release of the album’s passions, contained within the tight instrumentation, and also just as a celebration of how amazing the music is.