It’s been thirteen years since the Tōkyō-based avant-prog ensemble released Angherr shisspa, which was widely praised as the culmination of progressive rock. In the current year, 高円寺百景 (Kōenji Hyakkei) started a crowdfunding campaign for the release of their fifth album, ドリンビスカ (Dorimbisuka), mostly seen written as Dhorimviskha, and they not only met, but surpassed their goal! As such, the complete album was released on July 11 via bandcamp, and physical orders are being completed as of now.
The music on this new spawn of madness is in line with what we know Kōenji for: upbeat, eccentric, and creative rock that falls under the progressive rock umbrella, or, more precisely, the zeuhl subgenre. It’s also possible to point out that the Japanese school of Zeuhl is very different than the European one, originating from French band Magma. Along with the recent and smaller branch of American zeuhl (see Corima), it’s part of the zeuhl trident. Dhorimviskha immediately goes into last gear, with the opening track, “ブレステントライヴ / Vleztemtraiv”. With the frequent genre-hopping and the classical singing not unlike that of an opera, the song comically resembles parts of Komar and Melamid‘s “The Most Unwanted Song”. This is not a mocking attempt on my part, as I greatly preferred this track to its counterpart, “The Most Wanted Song”.
Dhorimviskha, with its runtime of over an hour, is sure to give plenty of pleasure to the prog fan, and plenty of headaches to the uninitiated! It meets the high expectations and standards set by the band over its career, but fails to explore new grounds. This is an exemplar album, but it’s a relatively safe bet from Kōenji Hyakkei. Don’t except anything new and earth-shattering—that is, if you already went through the seismic event that getting acquainted with the band in the first place is—, but, if you relish the musical heritage of the Japanese band as I do, this will be a welcome addition to your collection!