Shugorei (the album) was two years in the making, and is being released March 4, 2021.
You can preorder the album (either physical or as a download) at Bandcamp:
The album is charged up with an inimitable array of percussion and bricolage, performed by Nozomi Omote and knitted together with Thomas Green’s electronics. It is reminiscent of Amon Tobin, Björk and Geinoh Yamashirogumi. It brings together a range of influences by exploiting an unusually wide sonic palette; it features gapless playback (if you play the CD or enable this feature in Spotify), permitting a narrative-like portrayal of its central theme – the ghostly protector spirit – a tiger-esque form – the Shugorei.
Omote and Green collect instruments as well as musical objects. An unusually broad range of sounds has made its way onto this album. Being hoarders is one thing that Omote and Green have very much in common. Here is a non-exhaustive list of instruments you can hear on the album: vibraphone, marimba (natural and prepared), tom toms, snare drums, Chinese cymbals and gongs, floor tiles, hand bells, sleigh bells, wheelie bin, wind-up toys, marbles, singing bowls, sheets of steel, boots and cardboard boxes, an old rattling desk, yangqin, angklung, mandolin, ukulele, French horn, flute, clarinet and bass clarinet, cello, Moog Voyager, Arturia Minibrute and Microfreak, Akai MPC, Korg Monotribe and Elektron Maschinedrum.
Three of the eleven works are improvisations, created primarily by Nozome Omote, then added to by Thomas Green. Nozomi quickly, masterfully completed these other-worldly works in a single pass, one quiet afternoon in the studio. However, in general, the creation of the album was painstaking, with each track requiring several month’s worth of attention.
Chihiro Kasagi lends her extraordinary voice to Shugorei’s “bilingual single,” on track 9 of the album, titled Shugorei. This stunning work is all the more compelling thanks to Chihiro’s delivery of verses in both English and Japanese. The song’s lyrics were written by Thomas Green, borrowing some choice phrases from William Blake’s The Tyger. This “tyger” is of course the unifying feature of the album – it is a kind of Guardian Spirit (you can catch a glimpse of him on the album artwork, above).
Here is the text of William Blake’s The Tyger:
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Dan Curro played cello on this track and others on the album; you’ll hear his col legno in particular. Nick Harmsen and Sandy Chou provided all the woodwind features, with Nick doubling on clarinet and bass clarinet, and Sandy executing seemingly impossible arpeggios on her flute.
The album will become available on all platforms (e.g. Spotify and Apple Music) from March 4, 2021. More news is to follow (in particular, some exciting news about Shugorei’s launch in Brisbane). Follow Shugorei on Facebook to receive details.