Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mayumi Kojima's Blue Rondo

Mayumi Kojima's newest album, Blue Rondo, came out on 02/03, and I was finally able to try it out a couple of days ago. Now, having listened through it several times, I've come away slightly disappointed with how it turned out. All in all, I find Blue Rondo to be the weakest album in her discography so far.

Despite my harsh rhetoric, I didn't think it was horrible. To its credit, I was decently entertained, and never really bored. In fact, it's probably one of the stronger efforts I've heard out of the tens of albums I've listened this week while going through the backlog of music I've accumulated over the past quarter at college. Indeed, Mayumi's distinct voice is still here in all of its sensual, off-note, volatile glory, and there's more of that distinctive, jazz-guitar retro sound that she's loyally stuck with throughout her career. For those of you who have listened to Mayumi Kojima before, Rondo offers no departures into unfamiliar territory in terms of instrumentation. I can't comment on lyrical content because I can't understand Japanese I would have liked to hear more stylistic experimentation and exploration a la Ai no Poltergeist, but with her sound distinct as is, more of the same is most certainly pleasantly welcome. My main qualm is that this album just lacks the frenetic, wild, unpredictable energy seen in her previous outings. There's less of that visceral screeching, hissing, random vocal noises/alterations that I've come to love. Her belting seemed to be more measured and delivered with less reckless, reverberating abandon. The singles heading Rondo, "Arabesque" and "Merrygoround" are apt summaries for the rest of the album. They still get loud, there's a lazier, relaxed delivery; the crescendos are more predictable, and lack the untamed, brash edge we've seen in her previous works.

I admit that I'm just probably being a bit more of a harsh judge than I should be, since she happens to be one of my favorite artists, and the couple of delays pushing back Blue Rondo's release date hyped up my anticipation. If you've got some extra bank, you could do many worse things with your bling than importing this thing from CDJapan. Of course, if you've never listened to Mayumi Kojima before, I implore you to check out some other things in her discography first, Ai no Poltergeist and Me and My Monkey on the Moon at the forefront, before giving Blue Rondo a try.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed it, but you're right; it's not quite the body sweeping release you'd think it'd be considering it's been a while. Incidentally Asa-Chang, percussionist and former leader/founder of the legendary Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, left Mayumi Kojima's band for good late last year