Posts Tagged ‘ instrumental ’

Interview Narumi: Free from restrictions


One of the most striking Japanese releases in 2018 was debut EP ‘The Seed’ by Narumi. This guitarist is mainly known for her work with power metal bands Destrose and Disqualia. However, on her instrumental solo debut, she displays a completely different side of herself. One that can still get heavy at times, but elements from film music and jazz fusion are at least as prominent. These types of records often end up being endless exercises of virtuosity, but Narumi keeps the melodies front and center in her surprisingly well-written songs. Her skills are impressive, but don’t get in the way of her songs. Plenty of reasons for a conversation with the guitarist.

The fact that these songs are so focused on atmospheric melodies is not that surprising, considering Narumi’s approach. “I made this EP from beginning to end as if I was writing a fantasy novel“, she explains. “If you can feel that whole view of the world, I am very pleased about that. Strictly speaking, there were no songs written in advance before I started working on the project. What I did have was a lot of idea fragments. After the concept for the EP became clear, I finished them as songs within two or three months.

‘The Seed’ has seven instrumental tracks. That was not always the idea though. “Originally, I had planned to sing the song ‘1921’ myself“, Narumi admits. Not that strange, as she has been doing backing vocals for several projects. “But when I recorded my vocals, I could not convince myself of my singing. That is why I fixed it by re-writing it as instrumental music. During the production, I think about an image to give the songs their rough titles. When the song is completed, I alter the words to match the image if necessary.

Independent

Interestingly, ‘The Seed’ is entirely the vision of just Narumi and her producer and arranger Issei Ambo. “I played all the guitar parts, everything else has been programmed by Issei Ambo“, she confirms. “This way, I was able to create freely, free from various restrictions, such as the intentions of a record label or finding a compromise between conflicting opinions of others. It was important for me to approach this solo project that way. I think it is interesting to see that the number of these kinds of independent artists is increasing worldwide.

So far, I have only played in rock bands with twin guitars. I was trying to create this tight and aggressive high-gain sound that is unique to active pick-ups. But this time, I wanted to create a totally different sound in order to pick up my performances when I was playing softly and delicately as well. For the recordings, I used Ibanez and Kramer guitars through a Kemper Profiler amplifier. I edited the sounds of the Bogner and the Friedman a little and used those sounds to record the songs.

Evolving

The style in my previous activities was only a small part of who I am. And I am still evolving. My favorite musician is Sugizo, one of the guitarists in the famous Japanese rock band Luna Sea. But I also think guitarists like Plini and Steve Vai are great. There are so many that I cannot mention them all.

I started playing guitar shortly after Michael Jackson passed away. Orianthi was broadcast playing the guitar and that image of her really impressed me. When I was studying at a music school, Destrose contacted me, because they were looking for a female guitarist. That was the start of my career. Although I was not originally a metal guitarist, I started playing rock and metal styles according to the direction of each band after I debuted with them.

Future

Now that ‘The Seed’ has been out for a while, the logical question would be what the future has in store for Narumi. “I would like to play these songs live in the near future“, she says. “But for now, I’d like to increase the number of songs for my solo project before I start playing live. Apart from my solo project, I am currently preparing to launch an all-female band. Please keep an eye on that!

‘The Seed’ can be ordered through Narumi’s website. Just the EP costs 2000 yen and for 3200 yen, a bundle with the EP and a photo book can be ordered. The orders can be shipped internationally for only 200 yen.

 

Originally published in Dutch on The Sushi Times

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Album of the Week 03-2015: Yossi Sassi – Desert Butterflies


One of the saddest bits of news from the world of music in 2014 for me was the fact that founding guitarist and main songwriter Yossi Sassi left Orphaned Land. As a big fan of the Israeli Metal pioneers, this was sort of a shock to me; Sassi was almost solely responsible for their instantly recognizable fusion of Metal and traditional Middle Eastern music and therefore, I wasn’t exactly confident about their musical future. I still am not, but at least Sassi is still making fantastic music. His second solo record ‘Desert Butterflies’ is even a vast improvement over his already impressive debut ‘Melting Clocks’.

As always, Sassi has recorded the album with a wide array of stringed instruments. And while he has mastered many of them quite perfectly, the most dominant instruments in his arsenal are the guitar – both acoustic and electric – and the bouzouki. ‘Desert Butterflies’ is also the first record Sassi ever recorded with the bouzoukitara, a double necked combination of the two instruments that he helped design. It’s quite obvious from the beginning why such an instrument was necessary; the material finds Sassi switching between the instruments a lot. Even moreso than with Orphaned Land.

It’s not much of a surprise that ‘Desert Butterflies’ continues Sassi’s quest to fuse the musical tradition of his home region with the Rock leanings of the west. What is surprising though, is that Sassi slowly but surely seems to be steering towards a total world fusion. Sure, the oriental themes and melodies are still the most prominent ones, but listen closely and you’ll find references to southern Europe and the far east as well. Plus, the Blues tendencies that were always creeping underneath his compositions are technically African-American Folk music.

If there’s one thing that makes ‘Desert Butterflies’ a commendable job, it’s the sheer scope of the material. The album moves from electric tracks with triumphant melodic themes such as ‘Orient Sun’, ‘Azul’ and the uncharacteristically funky ‘Neo Quest’ to more traditional sounding songs as ‘Inner Oasis’ and the beautiful ‘Azadi’ through combinations of the two, such as ‘Fata Morgana’. There are only two songs with lyrics, one of which (‘Believe’, with Tristania singer Mariangela Demurtas singing them) is particularly reminiscent of Orphaned Land’s traditionally flavored ballads. There are guest solos by Marty Friedman and Bumblefoot, but Sassi definitely keeps his signature sound firmly intact even when they appear.

Yes, I still think it’s a pity that Sassi left Orphaned Land, but if anything, the band’s very genre specific sound would have proven ultimately too limiting for him. That much is clear when you listen to ‘Desert Butterflies’. The man himself often describes the album as a journey and it certainly feels like one just listening to the album. Not only because of the exotic influences, but also because we hear a musician here constantly exploring his own boundaries and restlessly trying to stretch them beyond what he already has done. Judging from the progress he’s made throughout his carreer, I think the end is nowhere in sight.

Recommended tracks: ‘Azadi’, ‘Fata Morgana’, ‘Orient Sun’, ‘Inner Oasis’

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