Sayaconcept :: Nara (Asadoya Yunta) (Bit-Phalanx)

On this debut single by a singular Japanese duo, the three-stringed shamisen leads light, caressing vocals by the hand beneath the shade of subtle electronics to the unhurried thump of one great, big drum.

On this debut single by a singular Japanese duo, the three-stringed shamisen leads light, caressing vocals by the hand beneath the shade of subtle electronics to the unhurried thump of one great, big drum. A cover of a popular Okinawan folk song usually referred to by the subtitle (previously interpreted by luminaries including Ryuichi Sakamoto and child star Rimi Natsukawa), Nara (Asadoya Yunta) is simple and organic and could just as easily have been handed down through other indigenous song cultures, from Appalachia to the Hebrides. “Nara” means “If” and the story is classic, that of a proud young peasant girl’s rejection of a powerful local official’s marriage proposal (don’t fret, it ends well for everyone involved).

Four remixes follow. The “rework” by Coloquix adds guitars and freights the air with a certain majesty, while the remix by Dai (the other half of Sayaconcept) simplifies the sound field and introduces a more pneumatic beat. Niggle riffles vocalist Mina’s song as though fanning out a deck of cards, and Hot Roddy revs up the electronics while simultaneously lending the acoustic elements extra heft. Each remixer is well suited to the task, proving perfectly in harmony with the rice papery elegance of Sayaconcept’s concept.

The third stage of this fulsome release presents the original demo, minimal and angular but also beat-happier. The official program closes with an abstracted, wide-screen live version, almost a playlet in itself, though the deluxe version of the extended player is further extended with bonus track “Kamizol.”

Nara (Asadoya Yunta) is available on Bit-Phalanx.

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