Hisato Higuchi - Dialogue (Family Vineyard CD)
Every review I've read on this CD is really really short. Probably because (a) it's a short album at 35 minutes and (b) there's not really too much you can say about it. But I'll give it a shot. Hisato Higuchi is an "up-and-coming" Japanese puppeteer-turned-guitarist who specializes in barebones wispy folk/blues-tinged excercises. "Dialogue" is his first release on this continent, preceded by 2005's "2004 11 2005 4" LP and 2003's "She" EP and you can also hear his work on the PSF label's "Tokyo Flashback 5" compilation.
So wot's it all about then eh? Well, it's Higuchi's voice, a guitar, and nothing else. Simple, right? Well kinda, but "Dialogue" is works very very well for all its so-called simplicity. No finger-bleeding amp-scorching powerchords here, this is a record that's entirely soft around the edges with Higuchi's patiently plucked strings and gentle, wordless crooning wafting out into the fog-filled night sky and rolling down the block like smoke from a chimney. An obvious point of comparison is Higuchi's countrymen Keiji Haino and Kan Mikami at their absolute-most sedated...and even better one would be a man who was recently the subject of an exhaustive Family Vineyard retrospective: Loren Connors. Both Hisato and Loren dabble in the same fields of gently coaxing sparse, docile rhythms out of their guitars and infecting them with the weighty spectre of loneliness and desolation. Hisato does this best when he lets his voice join in on lethargic sighs and whimpers, as heard on "Hajimari No Bamen", "Kizuato", "Manazashi No Saki E" and the opening "Himitsu". There's also a series of numbered "Guitar" pieces (though only 2 through 5 have been included) and the striking "Breath #2" which is just what you'd imagine it to be - Higuchi's icy lung-wind ushered through your speakers to swirl around your room and evaporate as quickly as it came in. By the time "Dialogue" winds down into its final two numbers ("Mitsumeau Sekai Ni" and "Borei No Ude"), either the tape they were recorded onto is going to crumble or my heart will because this album is just a total beatdown of emotion..and you can't even tell what (if anything!) Higuchi's saying. That's power baby, raw and pure and I've not heard it translated through music the way that Higuchi's done it in a real long age...at least not since I first laid ears on Jandek or "Skip" Spence or the first Vashti Bunyan album. And I'm not just blowing smoke up your...nostril.
"Dialogue" comes out on this very day (the 10th) and I recommend you check it out at least, especially if you're into late night/early morning sobbing sessions because that's exactly the kind of state Higuchi will leave you in if you spin this at the wrong time with the wrong kind of heartache on your mind. But in all actuality this is a stunningly beautiful album that demands repeated listens to fully begin to appreciate the type of warm-yet-lonely familiar-yet-distant hopeful-yet-heartbreaking magic it weaves. It also deserves every bit of praise you've read about it to date.