MusicRecord Reviews

Kishi Bashi

Ichi-go ichi-e, also referred to as 151a, is a Japanese term literally meaning “one time, one meeting,†and is a cultural concept comparable to the widely used Western phrase “once in a lifetime.†It’s the recognition of life’s transience and, when applied thematically, signifies that each song on 151a is intended to capture and cherish a fleeting moment in time or musical idea before it slips away.

Kishi Bashi, who has performed as a backing instrumentalist for both Regina Spektor and Sondre Lerche in the past and is currently a touring member in of Montreal, creates an intricate, orchestral sound through layering lush arrangements. His dreamy, experimental pop is predominantly driven by the violin, which varies dramatically amid playful pizzicato, majestic flourishes and racing sweeps up the fingerboard. In addition to rhythmic snaps and claps, Kishi Bashi frequently integrates Japanese into his soulful lyrics, using the language as a percussive tool for further orienting 151a as an effervescent pop record.

Given the difficult nature of reproducing each ambitious song in a live setting, Kishi Bashi’s solo shows rely exclusively on looping, guaranteeing that each performance will be slightly different from the next. With this in mind, 151a exists not as a culmination of Kishi Bashi’s career, but as a documented glimpse into his creative process.