An old friend of mine, Hagi, from years ago when I used to live in Osaka is now a full-time musician and composer in Tokyo, specializing in soundtrack-type music with an earthy, ethnic flair.
Hagi is the founding member of the unit xiè (pronounced "shee-eh"), comprising Hagi on the keyboards, the singer Keisei, with a powerfully mesmerizing, haunting voice, and a shakuhachi player. xiè had been inactive for about two years, so tonight had the added pull of excitement not only of hearing it play, but seeing the group back together on stage again.
It was my first time to attend the venue, Moon Romantic - one of those places that looks like a hole in the wall from the outside, but which is unexpectedly cavernous once you're inside.
xiè performed five or six songs, lasting for about 45 minutes. The impassioned vocals, the prodigious shakuhachi playing (often almost mistakable for a flute), and Hagi's multi-dimensioned synthesized soundscapes made for an unforgettable journey in sound that took the small crowd of about thirty people gathered far up and away above the workaday world whose week had just ended.
xiè looks set to extend its reunited run, so keep an eye out for more of this exquisitely Japanese-flavored brand of world music on the Tokyo performance scene.
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