Maher Shalal Hash Baz
K Records is the perfect place for lo-fi Japanese auteur songwriter Tori Kudo and the revolving cast of amateur musicians that make up Maher Shahal Hash Baz. For L’Autre Cap, Kudo again composed full-band arrangements for people unfamiliar with his music but willing to immerse themselves in simple, charming melodies and a free-flowing route through free jazz, pastoral folk and traditional Japanese music. It’s hard to say whether it’s Kudo’s conducting or the players’ hesitancy that gives most of the tracks such an unsteady feeling. There isn’t a single song that passes without at least one questionable chord change, an errant note from the brass section or a wreck of rhythm entirely — check out “Kamakura” for all of these faux pas happening simultaneously. There’s a sincerity and truthfulness in this kind of ramshackle production that anyone who spent time in their elementary school band in their youth should be able to appreciate. There is no virtuosity here, there’s not even a place for the comparatively weak members of the band to hide their mistakes, which makes this release all the more compelling because the mistakes end up being the lifeblood of this recording. While other groups might commit to an endless number of takes to get that “perfect” sound, Maher Shalal Hash Baz equate perfection with the idea that these songs will never sound this particular way again, false starts, sour notes and all.
K Records: www.krecs.com