Shinto - Sekai

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"My friend, I'm the god of misfortune
But also I'm the god of revolution
I rebel against everything, I'm the god of revolution"
(Fukou no Kami)

The world as fate and illusion, trapped in the game betwixt micro- and macrocosm, told in twelve episodes. Revolution and apocalypse mingle with love, daily life, marginalization and sexuality. The perspective chosen for the lyrics is unique: Stories about radical thinking and acting as well as its failures are told from the assumed mindset of marginalised Japanese subcultures and individual, with a heavy bias towards the little known radical left-wing. Thus Sekai opens new perspectives on a world between globalisation and the individual, on humans between daily life and illusion.

Archaic flutes and drumming start Hagoromo the opening track to Sekai, an adaption of the Noh-Play of the same name, written by famous author Zeami in the 14th century. It tells the story of a fisherman trying to blackmail a fairy to dance for him, but she lectures him: "Doubts belong to mankind. There is no untruth in Heaven." The album continues, more electronic in its music, to focus on man's crisis in dealing with the dichotomy of ideals and doubt. Take tracks like Chechen no Namida (Tears in Chechnya), which compares everyday life in war-ridden Groszny with rape, murder and abduction to the almost tranquil life in urban Tokyo, or Guantanamo no Yoru (The Night in Guantanamo) with its firm critique of inhumane conditions in prisons like Guantanamo and the Japanese penal system. Japan is one of a few of so called "western countries" still adhering to death penalty. It also tells of the terrorists Daidoji - of whom the song Daichi no Buta (The Pig in the Field) also tells - and Masunaga, who have been waiting for over thirty years in Tokyo Prison for their death by hanging. In a similar vein the tracks Poa about Shoko Asahara's Aum-Sect and Fukou no Kami (The God of Misfortune), which has lyrics by Sakae Osugi a leading Japanese Anarchist, who was killed by secret police in the chaos during the great Tokyo earthquake in 1923, tell about terror, revolution and anarchy.

Ai ga nai (No Love), a story about young Japanese girls who prostitute themselves for Gucci bags, tells as much about the impossibility to find true love, as the title-hymn of the album, Sekai Chinbotsu (The World Sinks). Kiri no Naka (In the Fog), inspired by the book of the same name. A story of perversion, the account of Issei Sagawa, who ate a fellow Belgian exchange student in Paris in the mid-1980s out of love, ends with the insight that love cannot be eternalised. Not even by oral consumption. Everything proves to be Neurose or illusion - Irozakari (Prime of life).

Shinto (The Divine Path) was founded by Hans Platzgumer (Queen of Japan, Convertible & many more) and Tokyo native CaMi Tokujiro in 1998. Sekai is their fourth album after Liberal Bullshit (1999, Disko B), the concept album Shonen-A (intermedium records/Bayerischer Rundfunk), - which won the 2002 World medal at the New York Radio programming Festival, and Kibou, released in 2003 on Playhouse and Japanese cult-label God Mountain. On Sekai they present an innovative mix of Japan- and Indie-Pop, some Electro as well as world-music. The enchanting, exotic vocals of CaMi Tokujiro meet Hans Platzgumer's sophisticated yet catchy music, to culminate in congenial symbiosis. The exceptional performances of guest-musicians Thomas Wühr (Convertible, Kamerakino) on drums and percussionist Saam Schlamminger's (aka Chronomad) Daf- and Tombak playing add yet another flavour to Shinto's sound. Enhancing this release, the cover artwork by Georg Wagenhuber reflects Sekai's main topic: The world and a cell merge, become one to form part of the Imperial Japanese Flag. Micro- and Macrocosm unite in the illusion of reality: that of a terrorist, an outcast or someone looking for love.

(Tomoroh Hidari, Vienna 01/06, English translations by Dao Tran & Loel Zwecker)

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