Rock of Asia: Asian Anthology
(Independent / 7 April 2021)
Japanese taiko drums, flutes, and acoustic guitar swirl around hypnotic rhythms in Lal Dhaga, the title track of Asian Anthology by Rock of Asia.
It's a typical blend of sonic flavours and colours on this quirky and distinctive release. A combination of folk/traditional and elements of rock music fuse in imaginative ways throughout the 14 tracks.
Solitary Friend blends orchestral pop rock with a melody that veers from anthemic rock song to Asian folk. It's an idiosyncratic approach that keeps it interesting from track to track. The violin is perhaps the most unexpected addition to the mix.
Vocally, Matsumoto is expressive, capable of holding the interest melodically as well as delivering an edge where needed.
The album's mood ranges from the orchestral and romantic folk of Kojo No Tsuki to art rock of Vision Led On, with Asian and Western musical idioms sprinkled and blended together. The Parallel is straight up modern folk.
BELIEF is a standout track, strongly rhythmic and compelling. The Unsaid is another, with its seamless folk/rock fusion.
Rock of Asia is the brainchild of Japanese musician Nikki Matsumoto. Matsumoto spent 15 years playing and writing rock songs in Los Angeles. He formed Rock of Asia in 2010, and the band toured the US in 2010, and the Middle East in 2012 and 2019.
Matusumoto is also an activist and volunteer, the founder of NGO "Others 1st Initiative" and director of "Japan Palestine Friendship Association".
Lal Dhaga (4:36); Solitary Friend (4:35); Belief (4:13); Guardian Of The Sea (3:26); MIKOTO (5:54); Kojo No Tsuki (3:00); Vision Led On (4:40); Ocean (4:18); The Parallel (5:36); Nanimo Shirazu Tada (4:52); The Unsaid (4:13); FUNATO (5:34); The Son (3:52); The Daughter (4:03)
Nikki Matsumoto (Vocals, Biwa, Guitars, Bass, Sanshin, Percussions, Taiko); Yasuhisa Murase (Acoustic Guitar）; Kizen Ohyama (Shakuhachi); Kay Suzuki (Violin); Kouzan Oyama (Shamisen) & others
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