Album review: "151a"
By Catherine P. Lewis
Friday, July 27, 2012
Indie-rock violinists are no longer relegated to the role of supporting musician; several string players have launched successful solo careers of late. Most recently, K. Ishibashi is following in the footsteps of such artists as Andrew Bird and Owen Pallett. Ishibashi, who performs as Kishi Bashi, started out playing with Regina Spektor and later joined Of Montreal. He began performing solo last year and financed his debut full-length, “151a,” through Kickstarter, an online fundraising Web site.
“151a” is a lushly orchestrated indie-pop album, with Ishibashi joined by cello, synths and tambourine. Handclaps give the songs “Bright Whites” and “It All Began With a Burst” a bright, uplifting vibe, while “Chester’s Burst Over the Hamptons” sounds like jubilant mayhem squeezed into a two-minute surge of skittering violin and rapid-fire vocals.
Ishibashi’s moodier songs are equally well-composed if a bit less memorable. “I Am the Antichrist to You” feels like an Antony & the Johnsons outtake, and “Beat the Bright Out of Me” closes the album with a mellow sigh instead of a bang. Still, the soaring melodies and emotionally drenched vocals on “Manchester” show that Ishibashi doesn’t have to be up-tempo to be compelling. His expressive singing in the lyric “I haven’t felt this alive in a long time” is one of the album’s most genuine moments.