1 Frying like a bird 19:50
2, A rainbow is floating 10:34
3. A rainbow is floating [Endless Descent] 09:43
Suishou No Fune
Kurenai Pirako (g, vo.harmonica.etc)
Kageo (g, bamboo flute.etc)
Matsueda Hideo (b, etc)
Mark Anderson (drs, etc)
Recorded. May 14th, 2021 SUISHOU NO FUNE live concert
"Underground Spirit 16" at Silver Elephant
Mastered by Taku Unami
Liner notes by Jon Dale
Printed by Alan Sherry
SUISHOU NO FUNE
The wind is spring. There is a rainbow in the sky. Love is hiding in the waves.
Since forming in 1999, Suishou No Fune (A Ship Of Crystal), the vehicle for long-term musical collaborators Pirako Kurenai (guitar, voice) and Kageo (guitar), have been one of the most compelling groups in the Japanese underground. Their long, languorous songs are devastating in their simplicity, as though the gently sung ballads of the Velvet Underground’s third album were re-scored by the legendary Japanese free-rock gang, Les Rallizes Denudes. Their new album, 風は春、空は虹、愛は波間に隠れている (The wind is spring. There is a rainbow in the sky. Love is hiding in the waves.), documents a live performance from May 2021, at Silver Elephant, where the duo are joined by Matsuedo Hideo on bass, and Mark Anderson (Greymouth, Mysteries Of Love) on drums.
The duo of Pirako Kurenai and Kageo have come a long way since their early performances and self-released CD-Rs – in the intervening decades, they’ve released albums on P.S.F., Holy Mountain, Important, Archive, 8mm and Essence, amongst others, each album another manifestation of the duo’s ever-changing same. You can hear them patiently toiling over these beauteous songs, with their choral melodies and lush waves of tonology, Kageo’s guitar radiating bejewelled chimes and dense passages of texture, pulling the songs into a black hole of quietude and sadness. And as Kurenai once told journalist Phil Kaberry, “Suishou No Fune’s songs, sounds and words are often born from heartrending feelings like sadness and pain”.
The wind is spring. There is a rainbow in the sky. Love is hiding in the waves begins with the deep blues of “Cherry”, a drawn-out drift-song that pivots on a most elegant two-chord mantra, as Kurenai sings, siren-like, amidst the sheets of noise Kageo peels from six strings. There’s something painterly about the duo’s playing here, and indeed, Kageo was a painter and Kurenai was a doll maker and watercolour painter when they met in the late ‘90s. On the flip side, a spare, spaced-out improvisation, “A Rainbow Is Floating”, acts as a prelude to “Endless Descent”, one of Suishou No Fune’s most remarkable songs, where a mesmeric guitar line endlessly coils and twines around the flicker and toll of Kurenai’s hypnotic one-chord strum. It’s a bruised, quietly desperate ending to an album that has an acroamatic air, as though the songs were transmitting to a cabal of lost spirits.
SUISHOU NO FUNE
the wind is spring - there is a rainbow in the sky - love is hiding in the waves
The collected works of Suishou No Fune offer maps to deceptively simple emotional geographies. The long-running duo of Kurenai Pirako and Kageo has, since 1999, repeatedly mined the richest of terrain, songs sculpted into uncanny shapes by the tangled interplay of their two guitars, with Kurenai’s crystalline voice singing the simplest of profound melodies over the top of songs that wring eternal mystery from a child’s clutch of guitar chords. Joined by a revolving cast of musicians – here, in a 2021 live performance, they shared the stage with Matsueda Hideo on bass, and Mark Anderson (of Greymouth) on drums – Kurenai and Kageo thread intimacy through the collective.
Indeed there’s always something very close, nearby, about these songs, even as their length, and the shimmering ghostliness of their playing, sometimes has them sounding as though they’re being broadcast from miles away, and decades past. On the wind is spring…, the quartet grabs hold of “Cherry”, a song they’ve returned to, again and again, over the years, on various albums, and manage to find yet more in its two-chord hypnotism. One guitar plucks out the notes in a steady stream or brings flinty strums crashing down through the amplifier’s wiring, while another guitar weaves a fabric of tonology across the song, sometimes pulling back to the most exquisite, descending four-note riff.
It’s a bravura performance both for what it does – letting the song breathe and move, fluidly, effortlessly – and what it withholds; there’s still an inquisitive tension in this music, even as the group nudges the song skywards at around the sixteen-minute mark, a flood of overloaded guitar coursing through the music’s veins.
Flip the record, and there are two more sides to Suishou No Fune’s music. It opens with a spare navigation of seemingly improvised dynamics, bells and wind spinning around each other, tentative yet somehow playful. The song this morphs into is a dissembled thing, with meandering bass and guitar tangling with harmonica, recorded distantly, as though broadcasting in from a Dylan bootleg. After this, “Endless Descent” chimes radiantly, the simplicity of its downward-strummed guitar, and funereal bass, gifting the song rare elegance; it’s poised and finely etched, a flickering from within dark shadow.
That seems to capture what Suishou No Fune do best, really – offering the glimmer of radiance from within a deep well of melancholy. It’s a beautiful music of sadness, of wistfulness; bodies lost in nature, giving over to quiet melancholy and deep rapture, at one with the loam, peat, and soil.