Nagisa Ni te
Comprised of four songs, but stretching over 40 minutes, Dream Sounds is an album on a grand scale that’s built from modest concepts. Japan’s Nagisa Ni te knows the ins and outs of minimalism and how to fashion the basest elements into something bold and epic. Core band members Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda have a musical aptitude that’s equal parts American psychedelic, British shoegaze and both region’s folk-rock. This combination, set against the duo’s Japanese lyrics, spell exoticism for every listener involved. “Me, On the Beach” kicks off with a short measure of regal British folk fingerstyle before a fireside harmonica shunts the song toward the 20th century via the old west. Soaring guitar tones circle like buzzards in the background, leaving vapor trails and waiting for the ideal moment to let loose a torrent of distortion.
Shibayama’s innate pastoral phrasing could lead the band to be lumped in with the rest of the current crop of freak-folk fungi, but Nagisa is much too rough around the edges to be easily swallowed by the commune crowds. Shibayama’s voice ranks up there with the greatest contemporary rural howlers: Alasdair Roberts, Jason Molina and Will Oldham. No translation is needed to understand his aching melancholy. This is music of an imaginary civilization, on another planet, in the farthest corner of the galaxy, where musicians still recognize the necessity to add to the lexicon rather than just smugly ape the tropes of their favorite decade of music. Astounding, I know, and thoroughly excellent.