Lurking in the circuits of Tokyo’s underground rock scene is the renowned duet known as KIRIHITO. Composed of two musicians who are equally established as solo artists, Takehisa “Ken” and Hayakawa “Kovu” Shunkuke have been making their mark in the Tokyo music scene for over a decade. Bouncing around punk, progressive new wave and heavy quirk-rock, Kirihito slams rock with a satirical conviction and an entertaining collaboration of artists.
Percussionist Kovu plays his drum set standing up and without a bass drum. Right from the start, this gives Kirihito a unique edge and the means for creative invention and innovative music. Kovu’s body becomes one with his set and his sticks roll from one drum to the next without hesitation. His arms flow like butter and whirl through full-bodied rhythms that keep a punk intensity without ever succumbing to boredom via simplicity.
Next on the roster is guitarist/singer Takehisa Ken (also of Umi No Yeah! and Group). Maybe I should say guitarist/singer/keyboardist, as Ken will often incorporate a small keyboard played with his feet. At first it was a little confusing to see this duet play and hear keyboard chords ringing out while Kovu was occupying the drums and Ken was singing and riffing on guitar. Who is playing the synth? However, the muddy keyboard sounds added an aurally interesting texture to the overall sound of Kirihito. Ken’s guitar interweaved flawlessly with Kovu’s rolling rhythms. Bouncing riffs that locked the duet into a groove would be complimented with distorted chords of rock persuasion. Ken’s style is quirky but precise and has a witty light-heartedness that keeps it entertaining. Kirihito radiates a similar aura as Les Claypool. They can keep heavy rock precise and maintain a charming strangeness that allows for a fresh slant on a tired genre.
Kirihito will remain a staple of the Tokyo underground rock scene, but I hope they can find success in America as well. Their skillful approach to creative quirk-rock is just as relevant to the American music scene as it is in Tokyo. As a duet, Kirihito manages to pack full-bodied complexity of both rhythmic and melodic phrase into a package of charming idiosyncrasy and eccentric rock.
KIRIHITO live @ Shibuya O-Nest, Tokyo 6/16/07