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A view on multiple aspects of the Japanese culture - 79%

kluseba, August 10th, 2011

Our culturally skilled Russian multi-instrumentalist Senmuth heads for a new topic on this release and creates a quite diversified album about Japanese culture, history and modern life. A part of a few Japanese vocal samples, there are no vocals on this short record that rather concentrates on the music itself.

The record can easily be divided into two parts. In the beginning, Senmuth uses for the first time a pumping bass guitar with many gripping passages like in the brilliant opener “Tsukiyosi”. The first songs generally concentrate on electronic instruments and remind of the early industrial metal sounds of the project. A positive exception is maybe the diversified album highlight “Amaterasu”.

Towards the end of the record, Senmuth leaves the metal territory more and more. He focuses on folk sounds and adds more atmosphere and passion than before into his songs. The guitar solos are no more similar to the gothic or industrial scene but remind me more of the works of another famous multi-instrumental genius which is Mike Oldfield. Senmuth really proves here that he can not only play many instruments but play them actually very well. The mysterious guitar sounds are way more interesting than the standard industrial riffs that he usually uses.

Nevertheless, this division into two quite distinctive parts is a disadvantage and slows the coherent flow of this album down. It would have been better to write more songs and separate the two genres on two different records. I must also admit that the album employs some Japanese sound and vocal samples but not as much as I expected. They even don’t always sound very Japanese to me and could also describe the sound and culture of other Asian countries. I feel slightly disappointed that Senmuth only scratches the surface of the culture of this impressive country and isn’t able to create an addicting atmosphere all over this record even if he improves towards the end of the album with tracks such as the dreamy “Shakjamuni”. This might sound a little severe as this is the first time he musically gets in touch with the Japanese culture but I think he did a better job for the Indian sounds on “Swadhistanha” or the Chinese concept on “Vdol’ Puti K Podnebesnoy”. Still, this is a humble beginning and respective first essay.

In the end, this album has still two interesting sides and styles to offer. It entertains actually very well and has a strong beginning and great finale. I’m looking forward for more works about the Japanese topic coming from Senmuth and will continue to follow the works of this gifted genius even though this one in here is one of his offerings that are only somewhere in between the ladder of mediocre and quite good works but not among his most brilliant or outstanding offerings.

Senmuth - Kami-No-Miti - 50%

ConorFynes, December 21st, 2010

While every Senmuth record distinguishes itself from the others in small subtle ways, there are a few records that leave more of a unique imprint on the listener, regardless of their relative quality and strengh as an album. While certainly not my favourite this far into Senmuth's discography, the album realizes one of the biggest musical jumps and developments the Russian one-man project has made since it's inception. Revolving almost solely around a mixture of atmospheric Japanese themes, ambient industrial and slower, almost doom metal guitar work, 'Kami-No-Miti' is undeniably a unique piece of work. While the musical ideas here and overall texturing does not measure up to par with some of the more challenging and intelligent albums this man has done, some of the bigger issues with Senmuth's music have been cleared up, and the album is blessed with a handful of great tracks that make 'Kami-No-Miti' worth a couple of listens.

The big trait with this release is certainly the heavy emphasis on Japanese/Oriental culture and sound, as well as the fact that this is the industrial metal based record Senmuth has released that lacks his vocal work completely. While the man behind the title of Senmuth is undeniably a very talented musical mind, his distortion-box style of singing has never appealed to me. In any case, the album's instruments enjoy a greater liberty without such frantic vocals overtop. The female Chinese operatic vocals that replace Senmuth's aren't incredibly pleasant either, but they mesh well into the music, meaning that it is easier to appreciate the music for what it is, rather than focus on less powerful vocals.

The track 'Idzanagi' is the standout song here. It is a powerful anthem fantastic rock instrumetal; driven by some very tasteful melodic leads by the main man himself. Underneath the soaring melodies is the typical electronic noise that permeates every Senmuth song for the sake of 'atmosphere' (to mixed results) and some tasteful traditional Asian instrumentation, which gives the music a very ethereal feel. To a lesser effect, the closer 'Shakjamuni' is an interesting piece of near-doom metal; it's heavier parts being interspersed by long droning sections that seem to get lost in themselves. While being another one of the more memorable tracks, this has alot of the same problems that are unique to 'Kami-No-Miti;' a seeming lack of melody to most of the music, were it could have been the missing key to make this into a much greater body of work.

While being a different creature than the ones Senmuth usually creates, I arrive at the same conclusion for this one as many of the others he has done in the past. While the music is worth giving a couple of listens, it is nothing special. However, for all intents and purposes, it is good to see Senmuth steadily improving his craft. And considering there are dozens of albums to go, improvement and development is likely the best thing an album could offer at this point.