Artist: Kenichi Fumoto
Label: Bijin Record
Kenichi Fumoto is a singer-songwriter from Japan. Like many others (in fact it seems like everyone in the west), I discovered him through the fabulous Female Trouble blog, the first stop for unknown gems from the Japanese underground. To the best of my knowledge, this album, a compilation of previous material released on his early CD-Rs, has no official (or even unofficial for that matter) English title, but Beautification is what came out every time when I put the Kanji through a few different online translators. The romaji title is Bika.
Fumoto's music is recorded in beautiful low fidelity on Garageband in his room. While many of his songs follow the formula of guitar and voice associated with singer-songwriters, his range is far greater than this; this compilation sees Fumoto playing organs, percussion, drum machines and synthesisers, alongside his own heartbreaking vocals and gentle guitar utterances. The songs often begin simply and are fleshed out over the course of the track, building into big dreamy sound-clouds. There are several instances when Fumoto is joined by Nisennenmondai guitarist and Bijin Record owner Takada Masako, who adds her light, pretty voice to some songs.
Any description of this album will undoubtedly fall short however, because this album really is, as said on Female Trouble, far greater than the sum of its parts. There's nothing flashy or groundbreaking about this album, everything from the production to the instrumentation is modest, creating only as much as is needed for the songs to communicate their individual messages. After being fairly obsessed with the album and individual tracks from it for over half a year now, I feel that I finally understand why it has so much staying power and remains relevant after repeated listenings. I frequently go through phases of being obsessed with an album or a single song for weeks on end, and I'm unable to think about much else other than the sound or melody of this song until I hear it again. Beautification is essentially an album with sixteen songs that will infect your very being in that way. Every single song has an undeniable energy which has the power to captivate and refuse to leave your mind. I feel like I can say little else about this record; if you're anything like me, you will be hugely moved by this album and will take pleasure in knowing a record with more longevity than anything else that I've listened to in a very long time.
14) 彼女はそう言う そう言う