Boomkat Product Review:
One of the many highlights in the killer Nonesuch explorer series of releases, 'Shakuhachi Music' is a rare treat, the chance to hear a truly ancient Japanese instrument played by one of its masters. You'll probably have heard the sound of the Shakuhachi before, that stark wavering flute sound they manage to fit into so many anime movies, what you probably don't know though is how old it is. Apparently the earliest incarnation of the 22-inch flute was found in the seventh century, but this was only in use until the 10th century. Eventually in the 17th century a sect of Zen Buddhists revived the instrument and renamed the Fuke, this version of the skakuhachi was slightly different having only five finger holes instead of six, but was basically the same thing. Soon after a samurai turned monk named Kinko Kurasawa decided he would go on a journey around Japan to discover the ancient flute music of the Fuke priests and he reworked them into proper musical pieces. He managed somehow to establish a new school of shakuhachi music and this is what we can hear on this disc; two pieces taken from Kinko's legendary 'Thirty-Six Classics of Kinko'. It's odd to have heard the sound used to much but never having heard it all the way through a track, in solo like this - I know what I'm hearing but it's simply awe inducing to be treated to such pieces of music. The performance of the pieces, from Kinko-school trained player Goro Yamaguchi is impeccable throughout, and although like all of the Nonesuch Explorers releases this was released almost forty years ago, it still sounds gorgeously alien and almost timeless. There's a magical quality to these pieces, I want to say spiritual but as this is essentially religious music I think that might be the wrong way to pitch it - there's a sense of awe here that is impossible to re-create and when you let yourself sink into the playing, the tones, it is quite special indeed. Absolutely stunning music.