Exposé Online banner

Koenjihyakkei — Viva Koenji!
(Skin Graft GR83CD, 1997/2006, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1997-10-01:

Viva Koenji! Cover art

Tatsuya Yoshida is one busy dude. In addition to being one half of the constantly-touring constantly-releasing Ruins, working in several collaborative musical units, being the drummer for Japanese Magma cover band Mekanik Kommandoh, he's also the drummer and primary writer for four-piece Koenji Hyakkei, whose debut release "Hundred Sights of Koenji" turned more than a few heads in zeuhl circles two years ago. Their style adopts many of the elements of the zeuhl style, while leaving others completely behind, and builds the results into a more aggressive, intense, and foreboding whole. One will hear that throbbing Janik Top style bass attack, interlocking multi-part vocal harmonies, and lyrics aplenty in some uncharted language. Not a stitch of Magma's jazzier elements, though — in fact from the shouting and intense energy on a few of the tracks, this might be easily be mistaken for punk music by those with no zeuhl-school familiarity. But the arrangements are quite complex and multifaceted, and when one adds in their penchant for grandiose visions, it pulls them back toward the progressive rock camp. Both bassist Kengo Sakamoto and guitarist Jin Harada are new to the lineup, the latter bringing a lot of new firepower to the band's arsenal. The end result is completely over-the-top frenetic in-your-face madness. A must-have for any fan of the zeuhl sound, and highly recommended for everyone else as well.


by Steve Robey, 1997-10-01:

This tight Japanese zeuhl band is led by none other than Yoshida Tatsuya (drums, keys, vocals), leader of the zeuhl punk band Ruins since the early 90s. I have to say that although Ruins invited many comparisons to Magma, this band sounds even more like Magma than usual. A full band (bass, guitar, keys, drums, plus all four members contribute vocals, often in unison) helps to flesh out the sound only hinted at in the tribal rantings of Ruins. That said, this is definitely more "progressive" than that aforementioned band, and holds a promising future should Tatsuya choose to continue recording with this band. For those unfamiliar with the zeuhl sound, allow me to summarize. Imagine a church choir up in the sky, driven rhythmically and melodically by the ebb and flow of a chaotic storm, pausing only to reflect on the carnage wrought by the storm's power and majesty. Zeuhl-styled music transports the listener to a front row seat in front of the choir, leaving the listener shocked and disturbed, but greatly moved by the music's beauty. Magma was the first of these bands — Koenji Hyakkei faithfully carries on the tradition, pushing their musical skills to the breaking point, so wrought with musical passion and precision.

Fans of Ruins or Magma will find plenty of enjoyment with this CD. Listeners looking to introduce themselves to zeuhl may find this a good place to start as well, although Magma undoubtedly offers the definitive version of this type of music. Since so few bands apart from Magma and Koenji Hyakkei execute this type of music with power and precision (Eskaton is another example that comes to mind), this release is especially valuable as one of the few living bands who live by the zeuhl creed.


by Mike McLatchey, 1997-10-01:

Need to get rid of unwanted in-laws? Need to lose all the listeners of your radio show? Want to clear a party that's gone on too late? Enter Koenji Hyakkei, the royal family of bombast, the band that makes Magma seem like late night lounge music. Could anything get any more intense than this? I mean here's a band that really takes the Magma ethic to new extremes, that takes the "zeuhl" out of zeuhl (I did think Zeuhl meant "celestial"), that removes any sense of the spiritual that imbues Vander's legendary project. With all this, I can't say I don't like Koenji, their almost heavy metal version of Eskaton puts me in stitches and redefines the word overboard. Their second album does give an attempt to bring some instrumental music in there, after all it was the instrumentals that gave some diversity to Magma's music, yet Koenji are still much too vocal oriented for my tastes. Their instrumental explorations are very promising though, the sense of a more familiar progressive rock does reside here; yet come on guys, you are drinking far too much coffee for one band!


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 13 , 2006 releases, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Koenjihyakkei, Tatsuya Yoshida

More info

Latest news

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Liberation. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

IQ - Ever – After two almost-completely duff studio albums and a long hiatus, it's good to see that the leading purveyors of the neo-Genesis sound are again living up to their good reputation. What does that...  (1994) » Read more

Tetragon - Nature – Here is one of those albums revered by collectors, with a pricetag on the original vinyl to match — only 400 copies of this baby were pressed in '71. Yet it's only a fraction of what an earlier...  (1995) » Read more

As Lonely as Dave Bowman - Pod – The genesis of this floating ambient side-project by Sam Rosenthal, founder of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, is an interesting one. It began with Rosenthal’s four year old son playing with a...  (2008) » Read more

Marillion - Marbles on the Road – Marillion has taken another big step to document a complete show from a recent tour and make it available to their fervent international fans. The Marbles CD had been well received in the UK and this...  (2006) » Read more

Iceberg - Sentiments – [This review was written for the 1994 reissue on Si Wan. The album has since been reissued again. -ed.]The Korean collector Si Wan has taken it upon himself to fill the void of Iceberg CDs, beginning...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues