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+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
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+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
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+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
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Nagisa Ni Te

From Makato Kawabata of the sprawling Acid Mothers Temple collective, who feels that his music is assembled by God, to Eye of Boredoms, who believes his percussive beat-orgies are fueled by the forces of the cosmos, the Japanese psychedelic underground is littered with a litany of amazing souls making the most amazingly spiritual music. It's not hard to see a whole range of disparate disheveled performers as all channeling grand power through instruments used as tools of divination, from Chie Mukai's weeping, wailing kokyu, to Kan Mikami's weathered roar, to the howling guitars of Keiji Haino and Shizuka. Each artist seemingly stays open to grander forces whose expression comes through them, then comes like the most vivid explosion — a burst of artistic incandescence emanating from a human who demurs the attention this glow attracts, leaving the light lingering only as a shining testament to the power of the human spirit and nothing less. Nagisa Ni Te, the partnership of Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda, make music that is just as spiritual in its scope, but more restrained in its environs. Rather than summoning grand forces from far-off dark distances, the pair explore their musical spirituality in the space between them, their evocations of such daggy notions as the-joy-of-being-alive taking place in very actual, tactual environments. For Nagisa Ni Te, these forces come not from some other unseen cosmos, but from right here, in the shared moments of their day to day life. Shibayama has called Takeda his "muse," and he means that in the most sincere sense. Every Nagisa Ni Te album features Takeda on the cover, and every single song is, to some ends, an ode to her. With an English translation of the lyrics in the booklet of this American release of their fourth album, Feel (with a reissue of their first, On the Love Beach, soon to follow), this notion becomes inescapable. But Shibayama's devotionals are hardly the stuff of baby-baby-babys; the album's dawning moment, the majestic mellotron-fluttering opening track "The New World," commences with the proclamation "It's all right, you keep telling me, your soul can light me up anytime." But, with Takeda's role in Nagisa Ni Te having gone beyond muse to greater musical involvement over each successive album, she herself sings this, the devotional written to her by Shibayama — essentially singing such devotion back to him, like a returned vow. Takeda also plays guitars, bass, percussion, and all manner of organs across the set, layering much of the music around Shibayama's ecstatic guitar playing, his nimble fingers doing everything from playfully plucking a 12-string acoustic to lighting up the night sky with soaring solos. While the most psychedelic reaches of his playing may conjure up grand thoughts, for the most part Feel rarely strays from the insular intimacy of its musical union. It's as if Shibayama and Takeda are holding hands on their own island's love beach, gazing out at the strength of the waves, but feeling as if all their strength comes from the other hand they're holding. Or, as they sing on "We": "Every day we fall in love, and share the same time. Deep as the first day, but never the same."

by Anthony Carew

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