Nagisa Ni te
Osaka, Japan’s Nagisa Ni te have made a career out of capturing “the moment.” Under their definition this means an unsteady coalescence of sound that turns out beautiful because of its imperfections. On their early albums, the duo of Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda perfected a blend of folk, pop, space rock, psychedelica and improvisation. Their albums have always been sonically-warped, but bucolic odes to nature and love.
Yosuga is their first album in four years and during their time away from the studio the group has subtly altered its sound. There are far fewer pastoral arrangements, and more reliance on familiar, easily-plotted pop structures. Their love of simplicity is thankfully still intact, it’s just a little more codified this time around.
Even though this may be a comparatively more mainstream outing, Shibayama’s songwriting and arranging is about as far from J-Pop as it gets. On “Seven Seas” he sutures a pleasant, almost lounge song with a couple noisy guitar solos seemingly lifted from a Pink Floyd album. Similarly, “Seeing the Sea” sounds as though it could easily fit in as a duet in a Tokyo karaoke bar, but there’s an emotional and ethereal bloom in its latter half that lofts is above the pat love song genre.
“The Next Day” is about as close as Yosuga comes to hitting the glory notes of their back catalog. It’s a sparse and slow repetitious rhythm that slowly ascends into the stratosphere thanks to Shibayama’s wonderfully expressive vocals and the gaining of instrumental strength — thanks, in particular, to a stellar, gentle, but shredding, guitar solo.
Sound quality wise, this album is more polished than previous outings. With such a long break between their last record and this one, both Shibayama and Takeda have become proficient musicians and more at ease writing and performing with each other. The loss of the amateurishness in their playing is a shame because it offers up fewer of those idyllic “moments,” but even a slight misstep from this band is guaranteed better than most of the indie rock dross out there.