Missing image- 0



Geographic is proud to present a stunning retrospective of the music of Shinji Shibayama and the two great groups he has lead - The Hallelujahs (1985 / 88), and since 1992, Nagisa Ni te, a co-venture with his partner, Masako Takeda.  Almost half the tracks are previously unissued.

The music here, by the Japanese musician Shinji Shibayama and his partner-muse Masako Takeda is like little you will have heard before.  Direct and honest, it murmurs loud across the oceans, across language and culture. Shibayama and Takeda's songs share moments of everyday epiphany with the listener - simple togetherness, walking the dogs on a summer evening, childlike wonder recaptured in nature.  Dreamily recollected feelings of wistful regret at the end of childhood summer holidays, dimly remembered reveries, and those joyful outside-of-time instants of boy-girl oneness.  All of these emotions are by their very nature delicate creatures, apt to disintegrate under too much prodding.  Nagisa Ni te's melodies seem equally fragile, left in the barest of natural forms lest meddling break their spell.  But that's not to say that the music is rough or unsophisticated.  In fact it shimmers with the hard-won patina of musical instinct, deep thought, and an acute sensitivity to what works.  Years of work have gone into these songs, yet the profundity of Shibayama and Takeda's craft is left unadorned.  Like a raku teabowl - those misshapen and unpatterned rustic vessels that are beyond value to the connoisseur - the simplicity of the outward form masks its inner perfection, the soul the potter has placed in it.

How could facts even pretend to capture the processes by which Hallelujahs evoke the painful realisations of the realities of love in our twenties?  Or the ways in which Nagisa Ni te so effortlessly (and psychedelically) invokes memories of places and people unknown?  The songs strive to exist in the moment of life lived, but tinged with the wistful regrets brought by the knowledge of inevitable death.  Ancient court poets would have termed these bittersweet feelings mono no aware -  the sadness of things.  But then they never felt the joy of a fuzz guitar solo.  In the face of words that are unafraid to soar close to embarrassment, music that willingly trembles on the crumbling edge of ineptitude, the critic's professional logic is disarmed.  All that one is left with is a personal response to a deeply personal music.  And ultimately it is this openness and absence of rock-pose that makes Shibayama's songs, and those of his partner and muse Masako Takeda, so deeply affecting.  As Shibayama once remarked, 'is music just a tool for entertainment? Or is it a means of shattering illusions?' - Alan Cummings