Review Exclusive

The Shamisenists - SAKURA

02/05/2022 2022-05-02 14:00:00 JaME Author: Jasy

The Shamisenists - SAKURA

Instrumental trio The Shamisenists released a single at the end of March dedicated to the beginning of spring.


© The Shamisenists. All rights reserved.
Single Digital Release

SAKURA

The Shamisenists

Following up on their 2016 albums Treble Remastered Edition and LAWLESS and 2020's [re:Tokyo], instrumental trio The Shamisenists released the single SAKURA on March 28th. For this new release, the self-described "alternative shamisen rock band" tried a new approach and added the chords of a keyboard to the sounds of their usual lead and bass shamisens and drum set. But how did this new addition affect their music? JaME took a listen into both songs from the digital single to find out.

SAKURA starts slow and builds itself up in small pieces. The keyboard sounds like a piano and adds a soft touch. After the intro the pace rises and the bass shamisen, played by YUJI, and KYOHEI's drums come into play. During a later part SAKURA takes a more mysterious twist, surprising listeners with chords and effects that are like a fleeting gust of wind. But this part doesn't linger long and The Shamisenists quickly switch back to a faster playing style, producing sounds that could come directly from an electric guitar.

The second track is Walking On The Moon, the title of which was inspired by a song from Sting and his band The Police, according to lead shamisen player JACK. The song presents joyful playing that is fast and varied, displaying in a very beautiful way the different, finely nuanced sounds of JACK and YUJI's dexterous shamisen playing. Their performances are rounded out well by KYOHEI's drums, which turn the song into an entertaining, catchy piece of music.

It was a surprise to hear that the shamisen could be used in a bass function as well, but it really works. It is very easy to hear its effect in Walking On The Moon, and on some older tracks from The Shamisenists. Even listeners who are particularly familiar with music featuring traditional instruments like the shamisen may be surprised to hear the ways the band members have utilized it.

Coming back to SAKURA, in particular, it didn't seem to conjure an image of spring or the symbol of spring in Japan, the cherry blossom, but the addition of the keyboard definitely opens up new possibilities for the band in the future. However, the second track of the single was completely convincing. Fans of the fusion of traditional and modern instruments should definitely give The Shamisenists' music a chance.

If you are interested in hearing SAKURA for yourself, you can download or stream the single on various platforms. Or, you can listen to SAKURA on Spotify right below. The Shamisenists are also currently in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign for a new album that will run until June 15th. Details on the project are available here.

 Download or stream "SAKURA"
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