Home Music Various Artists: Hallo Zayaendo

Various Artists: Hallo Zayaendo

Markus and Micha Acher formed the label Alien Transistor with a broad mission statement “to produce music that has a musical or personal relation to the Notwist-microcosm.” In the last few years, that scope has led to such terrific releases from the Japanese underground as the compilation Minna Miteru and a boxed-set of Tenniscoats material. Hallo Zayaendo, the label’s latest, is a family affair inspired by a brass-heavy Tenniscoats spinoff. Its ersatz-pepper pomp is at once shaggy and baroque, a welcome antidote to a world of bad vibes, yet often soaked with a somber longing for a bygone world.

The album emerged from musical friendships that spanned from Germany to Japan thanks to the Notwist’s Alien Disko festival. The Acher brothers first invited Saya and Takashi Ueno of Tenniscoats to Munich in 2016. The Japanese duo sat in with the Achers in the brass band Hochzeitskapelle and were thus inspired to form Zayaendo back in Tokyo, with a revolving group of members that at times grew to 20 musicians. A few years later, Saya and Takashi brought their new group to Germany, where their friends threw a surprise party and played a set of Zayaendo cover versions.

Schnitt opens the album with “Hiyodori,”an instrumental that proceeds at a dirge-like pace. Brass, woodwinds and percussion that sounds like the clip-clop of horses all create a funereal tone, although the arrangement adds a layer of nostalgia that lifts the mood from deep mourning to wistfulness. Hochzeitskapelle’s “Melt Horn” is similarly old-fashioned, with strings and a brighter tempo raising the spirits and faintly recalling Sufjan Stevens. This pair of tracks is typical of the album’s time-travel, conjuring an indie-folk-rock world that seems like the 21st century equivalent of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, but with a cloud hanging over it.

Despite the various artist credits, the album’s five bands are all so in tune with each other that Hallo plays like the work of a single group. But there are subtle shifts, with some less subtle than others. Combo Endo’s “Shimin Kane” begins with a somewhat tentatively-played saxophone line and bass, the reed a connective tissue with the brassy side of the album; but then the sweet female vocals chirp in, and the music gently soars in a different direction. Sachiko Hara and Christoph Reiserer’s “Waves” takes the plangent air and places it in a woodwind-and-piano setting.

Joasihno’s “My Holy Parade” departs most from the template, its catchy lo-fi electronic rhythm a standout and outlier. For comparison, you can hear 2B’s version of the track on Minna Miteru; Joasihno streamlines the melody and turns it into a haunting synth-pop instrumental. It’s the artist’s only track on the album, and one hopes there’s more where that came from.

Hochzeitskapelle closes out the 39-minute set with “Way Home,” which frames the rest as a kind of concept album about distant friends. Hallo Zayaendo was created as a souvenir among friends, and it reveals a world that may not resonate as it does for those involved. Yet this tribute is particularly poignant in a time of relative isolation, which may be why it sounds so mournful.

Summary
Created as a souvenir among friends, it reveals a world that may not resonate as it does for those involved. Yet this tribute is particularly poignant in a time of relative isolation, which may be why it sounds so mournful.
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Brass Whimsy

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