Kishi Bashi: Lighght- Sailing in on a gust of psych pop glory, Kishi Bashi brings an album that is at times danceable and other times contemplative, awash in lush orchestration. Kishi Bashi is the solo project of K Ishibashi, who adopted the moniker while forming his new solo outfit. Lighght is Kishi Bashi’s sophomore album and the confidence in songwriting and composition shows. This is also a man who is no stranger to the music scene, having been a former touring violinist for both Regina Spektor and Of Montreal. Kishi Bahi’s prowess with string orchestration is more than apparrent on Lighght and he is able to seamlessly thread it through tunes that make you want to dance to ones that get more experimental and urge you to just sit and listen for a while.
One element that immediately stands out in Lighght is the fact there are two short instrumental pieces. The first track, ‘Debut- Impromptu’ and later on, ‘Impromptu No 1′ both serve as a set up and an intermission, respectively. They focus on string orchestrations, while also throwing in some electronic based sounds, some keys, some instruments that are still a mystery to me. What is immediately apparent from ‘Debut- Impromptu’ is the non-traditional use of strings, much of which sounds like it is put through some sort of filter that gives it a playful tone, but one that should not be taken lightly.
Two of the more danceable tracks on Lighght appear early on the album and grab listeners attention. ‘Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!’ starts off with with a violin and quickly layers in other instruments and a chorus of harmonized “Ohs” before braking into full rhythm with loose, tribal drums, quirky sounds and just great modern psych pop with possible influences from Animal Collective and MGMT. And while this song uses what sound like live drums, ‘The Ballad of Mr. Steak’ uses beats to get a more synth-poppy, dance-floor groove going through your veins. Kishi Bashi is able to blend together elements from more standard pop with the somewhat experimental elements of psych pop for a fun, quirky song telling the story of a bachelor named, Mr. Steak who loved to dance. I’m a sucker for puns and using lines like, “Mr. Steak, you were grade A” just add to the vibe of the album.
And while there are more standard dance tunes, there are also songs, that while still holding a great beat, delve more into psychedelic elements rather than the pop. With ‘Hahaha Pt. 1′ and Hahaha Pt. 2′, Kishi Bashi proves strings are an element that should be used more on modern music. Both songs are awash in strings, beats, and synths. The vocals have a slight echo to them giving the songs a very dream-like quality. They also provide an element normally only seen in “rock opera” albums, movements. In what is given the overarching term “classical music”, movements can be like tracks on an album or like sub-tracks layered in single songs, but all while using similar musical themes or melodies. In the two ‘Hahaha’ tracks, the idea of movements is employed and used to tie two songs together that while are different, use intelligent threads to tie together the musical themes.
And while all the tracks mentioned are outstanding, on ‘Q&A’, Kishi Bashi strips things down and has a nice light, acoustic-folk love song. It is a nice touch to an album with full orchestration and shows Mr. Ishibashi understands the need for contrasts and dynamics in an album. It is a sweet song that makes you bob your head back and forth and think about that special someone.
All in all, Kishi Bashi’s, Lighght is a fantastic psych pop album. It shows that excellent violin playing and string orchestrations set this album apart from others in it genre. It is smartly crafted, both catchy with the pop elements and holds your attention and opens the mind with the more experimental side. It is a well-composed sophomore album, which is difficult to do. Kishi Bashi was able to keep his best elements strong, appeasing older fans and attracting new ones… 9.5/10