MIYAVI – SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.1: Reviewed

SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.1 is possibly MIYAVI’s most ambitious and accessible album to date,  seeing the self-styled guitarist team up with a variety of different talents from differing musical backgrounds. From electro, to jazz, to traditional Japanese sounds to rap and punk, it’s all thrown in here.  Though, weighing in with seven tracks and a run-time barely over 25 minutes  it’s technically an album, but feels more like a suped up EP. Needless to say, there’s a high possibility it will leave you hungry for more, which is no bad thing. And if you’re an existing fan we bet you’re already hot about the next volume, especially seeing as the MIYAVI vs. YOSHIKI (vocalist of X Japan) collab the pair hinted at on Twitter didn’t make this cut this time round. Anyway, let’s move on and take a track by track look at the album.

It kicks off with opening track GANRYU, a short burst of energy featuring the self-titled guitar samurai’s slap-guitar technique used prominently in his 2010 WHAT’S MY NAME album, mixed in with electronic tinkering, scratching and effects by breakbeat duo HIFANA. The track is a great builder, and we really hope the two forces join together again in the future.

STRONG, featuring rap artist KREVA should be a track all MIYAVI fans are already familiar with as it was the first SAMURAI SESSIONS single. (Grab it from iTunes or Amazon MP3click here for an acoustic video rendition of the track.) It’s still one of our favourites on the album, and we’re not ashamed to admit to trying to rap along despite having no idea of the words. It leads on to DAY 1, with French electro producer YUKSEK, the second single of the series (and is also available from iTunes and Amazon MP3.) It’s a beat heavy dance track lead with MIYAVI’s now-typical fiddly guitar loops thrown into the background. So far the first three track have all been party anthems, however the mood of the album as a whole shifts from here onwards.

SILENT ANGER has punk-rock vocalist TAKESHI HOSOMI from ELLEGARDEN and the HIATUS behind the mic, and the style of the track is clearly moulded in the style of the HIATUS, offering a much darker tone than any of the other songs on the album, and an overarching impression of epicness. Check out the video for it at the start of this paragraph to get a feeling of what we mean. PLEASURE! is a polar opposite to SILENT ANGER, and is a burst of jazzy energy featuring P’ez pianist (and former Tokyo Jihen ivory polisher) H ZETT M.

HA NA BI is another technical number that pits MIYAVI against flamenco guitarist JIN OKI. If that doesn’t sound like an exciting enough combination, they throw in shamisen master HIROMITSU AGATSUMA to create a beautiful (if a little manic) clashing of sounds and styles. It’s the kind of track we can imagine Quentin Tarantino falling off his chair from excitement to.

Closer INORI WO is the nearest the album comes to a ballad, and not only features the famed producer and bassist SEIJI KAMEDA (Ringo Shiina, Porno Graffitti, Do As Infinity), but also stars the daughter of Ryuichi Sakamoto; MIU SAKAMOTO. It’s the slowest track on the album and a lovely piece of dreamy pop, that leaves SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.2 feel open to anything. And we can’t wait to find out.

Artist: MIYAVI
Title: SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.1

Tracklist:

1. GANRYU – MIYAVI vs. HIFANA (1:26)
2. STRONG – MIYAVI vs. KREVA (3:18)
3. DAY 1 – MIYAVI vs. YUKSEK (3:19)
4. SILENT ANGER – MIYAVI vs. TAKESHI HOSOMI (4:20)
5. PLEASURE! – MIYAVI vs. H ZETT M (3:45)
6. HA NA BI – MIYAVI vs. HIROMITSU AGATSUMA vs. JIN OKI (4:00)
7. INORI WO – MIYAVI vs. SEIJI KAMEDA vs. MIU SAKAMOTO (6:06)

Release Date: 14/11/2012
Available From: iTunes UK, iTunes DE, iTunes FR, iTunes ES, iTunes IT, iTunes US and 54 other stores.

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About Tom Smith
Some say he's fuelled on nothing but energy drinks, and that when he visits Japan, he spends the whole time engaging the ground in an all too familiar way. But what we do know is that his words on the country's entertainment and culture find their way into NEO Magazine on a monthly basis, while everything else finds its way here. Be it quirky news item from the Land of the Rising Sun, or a story so gruesome it'd be rude not to pass it on, you'll find it here along with his general posts about life, work and most importantly play. And yes, he has had articles printed in the likes of MCV, GamesMaster, 360 Gamer and more, thanks for noticing.

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