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Album Review

Hirota is a Japanese percussion master, one who loves and understands taiko drumming, with its deep, impressive history. There's something literally awesome about hearing these drums thunder (especially on "Kannabi," a solo for the massive Oh daiko drum). It can be a spectacle that's as much visual as musical — watching heavily coordinated and choreographed movements is almost like seeing a ballet — but it works well just aurally when the ensemble is in true harmony, as this one is. But it's not all a roar of sound, as the delicate "Kin No Mai" shows, using a mixture of drums and different sized gongs to create an eerie atmosphere. So at times it's quite impressionistic, and "Soroi Goma," creating the impression of the hooves or marching horses, paints a very clear picture. Although albums that are just percussion can quickly seem one-dimensional, this never does, in part to the intelligence of the compositions and arrangements, but also to the varied nature of the taiko drums themselves — it can be like listening to an orchestra. The closer, "La Vie," which Hirota plays solo, encompasses all the variations of taiko, percussive, strangely melodic, and also very emotional. An impressive new venture from a virtuoso.

Top Albums and Songs by Joji Hirota & Hiten Ryu Daiko

Japanese Drums, Joji Hirota & Hiten Ryu Daiko
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