For those of you unfamiliar with the multi-instrumentalist super composer Kaoru Ishibashi, this is his 2nd album, released on Joyful Noise Records. Hailing from Seattle WA USA, a classically trained violinist who has toured with the likes of Regina Spektor and Of Montreal. His brand of uplifting pop has been featured on adverts for Microsoft and Sony, albeit remaining commercially under the radar. His 1st album 151a was a simple yet multilayered affair, full of sweeping strings and delicate, sweet vocals.As with all bands and artists, the second album can be the most difficult. In Lighght KB has kicked this notion to the kerb and stomped all over it. He has produced an even better album than its predecessor, more polished, full of experimental programming and building upon the techniques he used previously on 151a. There is a whiff of 70s Prog and, dare I say it, Disco showing not only KB’s influences but that this is a fun record that he most definitely enjoyed making.
We kick off with Debut Impromptu, a track lasting less than a minute and the first of two violin solos, reminding us that he hasn’t forgotten his roots.
It’s the perfect beginning to what can only be described as a supersonic journey through KB’s cosmic pop universe.We are launched into Philosophise in it! / Chemicalize with it! A continuation of those beautiful strings and soft vocals we know so well from 151a. This gradually builds into a cartoonish sounding feel good anthem. The strings add drama alongside the whimsical lyrics and twinkly sounds.
The whimsy continues with The Ballad of Mr. Steak. An ode to a pre-packaged piece of meat. Yep that’s right, meat. Mr Steak you’re Grade A he sings, making mundane things come to life so much so you can almost imagine a steak dancing before you! Indeed, the cheeky Booty Booty / Shaky Shake alludes to his dance moves. This song comes sounding straight out of the 80s with the catchy bouncing chorus and squelchy beats. You cannot help but smile when you hear it; Kishi is doing what he does best and loving it.
Carry on Phenomenon instantly conjures memories of Jeff Lynne’s War of the Worlds. Space age sounds collide with strings while KB’s vocals soar above. 3 minutes in is spectacular, so dramatic and pure, we are swept up into a whirlwind of sound and hurtled towards outer space. An absolute highlight of the album and not to be missed. Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her brings us back down to earth, not with a bump, but simply floating. KB almost speaks his lyrics while building up to his usual register in the background. A love song full of emotion and beauty.
Impromptu No 1 is our second interlude of glorious violin and sparkly sounds.
This marks a change in the mood of the album. Just as Bittersweet genesis brought us back to earth, Q&A transports us to a tropical paradise and the result is heartbreakingly gorgeous. You are the answer to my question, he sings softly alongside ukulele and acoustic guitar. There are no frills here, just flowers. We are broken in gently to Once Upon a Lucid Dream (In Afrikaans) with soft strings and sped up vocal gymnastics. A handclap ensues and we know his is going to be another indie pop rock anthem. Prog rock influences are here in abundance.
Has KB been listening to symphonic rock legends ELO? Even if you’re not a fan this track will get you grooving. Hahaha Pt. 1 and Pt.2 are light and airy, winding down as we reach the end of our fantastical journey. They segue perfectly into the next and final track, In Fantasia, where Kishi Bashi serenades us for one last time. Sci fi vocals wash over a mythological melody like a chorus of alien angels. Tranquillity is restored, soporific wave sounds lull and calm us following our adventure through sonic space and time.
The best thing about this record is its addictive and we can go back there over and over and never tire of it. From start to finish Lighght is a stunning piece of art. New textures and layers appear with each listen. A perfect summer album, surreal and intriguing. I challenge anyone to listen and not smile; there is something here for everyone.
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