Kusanagi are four piece band from Liverpool who specialise in vast instrumental soundscapes that will at times uplift your soul but break your heart at others such is the emotional context of their music.
The shimmering Celestial starts Yugen and shows this balance between emotional styles in full effect, swaying between a broad and stirring wall of noise and a tearful use of guitar that makes the instrument sound as mournful as it can get. There is definitely a elevating quality to the track that makes it as celestial as its title and sounds all the better for it.
The more upbeat Dancing Fire follows and starts in a frenetic fashion that builds and builds but eventually morphs into a more downbeat rhythm until that downbeat rhythm is usurped by a seemingly funk inspired groove that carries on before reaching an inspired crescendo at the end of the track.
The inspiring Lemuria is up next and permeates an air of positivity with its driving nature snd has to be the highlight of Yugen, gradually building up the positive vibes only for them to disintegrate in a field of unhappiness halfway through the track, trying to get back to its positive start but never quite getting thee, even taking on an angry sound as it tries and it is this sorrowful juxtaposition that is is somehow as inspiring as it is hopeless for it to do so.
Lemuria is followed by the vast Valley Of The Wind which features some epic duelling guitars and bass while a galloping drum rhythm creates a formidable backbone to the track but this again turns into a more mellow and reflective mood with the sorrowful guitar and marching drums creating more of an epic but downbeat atmosphere, driving to the hilt at the end of the track. The two tracks that are next Beneath The Open Sky and Lightning Flowers show off the bands chops as musicians, the former is a harmonious track full of emotion while the latter is a forward thinking, catchy blast of a track, with a defiantly insane finish to it.
The discordant Murmarations and the jagged instrumental prog of Letters On Paper Trees continue the quality on show and Yugen ends in just the way it began with the high points of the epic Axis Mundi (a track that starts with probably the heaviest music on the album but morphs into something a lot more mellow before exploding into life again) and the sublime closing track Enceladus, a fine way to finish this emotional roller coaster of an album and a track that gives all that has gone before a fine send off.
The members of Kusanagi are all masters of their respective instruments and when the music is as striking as it is here there is no need for any sort of vocals, the music speaks for itself and is in turns both up and downbeat, inspiring and regretful and this is proven without a doubt on
and when the band let their instruments do the work for them as they do here, the emotional attributes attached are certainly covered in full.
Words: Gavin Brown
Kusanagi – Yugen out NOW!