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Maher Shalal Hash Baz

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Maher Shalal Hash Baz is a Japanese group led by musician and composer Tori Kudo. Writing and arranging purposefully naïve pieces that are performed by an ensemble comprised largely of amateurs, Kudo's music thrives on the inspired mistake and fuses stray elements of psychedelia, pop, folk, jazz, and experimental music into works that are full of charm, vision, and fragile beauty despite their many rough edges. Little is known about Kudo's personal life, though it's been speculated that he worked as a visual artist before forming the group, and was a member of a revolutionary political faction in Japan prior to embracing the faith of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Drawing its name from a phrase in a biblical passage (Isaiah 8:1-3) meaning "plunder quickly," Kudo formed Maher Shalal Hash Baz after meeting musician Hiroo Nakazaki in Tokyo. With Nakazuki on euphonium, Kudo on guitar and keyboards, and Kudo's wife, Reiko, on vocals, the core of Maher Shalal Hash Baz was established, through the rest of the band's membership would remain fluid. They released their first album, Maher Goes to Gothic Country, in 1991 through the Japanese Org label, with the three-LP box set Return Visit to Rock Mass appearing in 1996. While Maher Shalal Hash Baz developed a loyal following in Japan, their profile elsewhere got a significant boost when Stephen McRobbie (aka Stephen Pastel of the iconic Scottish group the Pastels) signed them to his Geographic Records label, who in 2003 released their albums Maher on Water and Blues du Jour, as well as the compilation From a Summer to Another Summer (An Egypt to Another Egypt). In June of 2006, Maher Shalal Hash Baz traveled to the United States to perform at Olympia, WA's Festival of Experimental Musics, and while in Olympia the group recorded an album for K Records, L'Autre Cap, which featured contributions from members of Tender Forever, Le Ton Mite, and Old Time Relijun. A second K Records project, C'est la Dernière Chanson, appeared in 2009.