Guitar Meets Erhu
Rock Of Asia: TAMI
(Independent / June 16th 2023)
Tokyo-based Rock Of Asia blend East and West, with a repertoire of traditional Japanese music in addition to its original and cover songs.
Nikki Matsumoto performed rock music as a pro in the United States for about 15 years before returning to Tokyo to form Rock Of Asia. The band blends Western instruments like the guitar and violin with Eastern instruments like the koto, shamisen, sho, and erhu.
The result is driving rock with an unexpected sound. Kizen Ohyama's virtuosic Shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute, is a particularly lovely addition to the mix.
The lyrics are in English, and Nikki's vocals are melodic when needed, and harsh enough for the rockier parts. Four-Legged Requiem has a jazzy edge and insistent rhythm, overlaid by layers of melody.
There are eight tracks on the album, each presenting a different face to the fusion mix.
Sunbright turns to traditional Japanese melodies for inspiration, mixed with a bit of North American folk rock. The erhu and violin weave in and out of the Shakuhachi.
Capital In Your Vein leans into Western jazz, pop and rock with a gloss of Japanese instrumentation to make it interesting. Eastern Eyes is a standout track with a driving heart that showcases the violin as a rock instrument.
It's an original sound that should appeal to eclectic tastes.
Personnel: Nikki Matsumoto (Vocals, Biwa, Sanshin, Guitars, Bass, Programming & Percussions); Yasuhisa Murase (Acoustic Guitar）; Kizen Ohyama (Shakuhachi); Yuki Ishii (Violin)