With a name like Shogun Kunitoki, you’d be forgiven for assuming the band is Japanese in origin. Fittingly, they’re scandinavian. These Finnish fellows create a sound which I first described as “Steve Reich using Black Moth Super Rainbow‘s instruments, scoring a Miyazaki film” upon hearing the debut, Tasankokaiku. And truthfully, my silly description still stands tall if you’re familiar with the references. If not, then read on.
This band takes elements of the strain of minimalism exemplefied by Terry Riley and later, Steve Reich – but the influence is exactly that: an element of the sound. The album is full of defiantly fleshed-out songs with structure and mood shifts, beginnings and endings. The instrumentation is refreshingly lived-in, with warm analog synths and the unprogrammed appeal of live percussion. The atmosphere is pure 60’s sci-fi and lounge wrung through a modern sensibility which betrays the artists’ hindsight and ingenuity; in other words, this music doesn’t simply coast on the preconditioned atmosphere moog tones and synth squeals conjure – it’s pulsing with the (seeming) foreknowledge of punk zeal, bulging fuzzy psychedelic rock acoustics, and a post-rock ache for reinvention of the comfortable and pedestrian.
If you are familiar with the debut album, then you know what to expect when I say it’s more of the same and beyond. In other words, there are no game-changing shifts in approach; this is an update and expansion on the unique slice of sound Shogun Kunitoki have previously carved out for themselves.
And if you’re truly lacking in inspiration, do yourself and the world a favor: go watch Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.