Glimmering Star album cover
Glimmering Star

Ché-SHIZU

1999
Aleutian Retto

While Chie Mukai’s Ché-SHIZU are best known for a trilogy of beautiful mid-nineties albums on the legendary Japanese record label PSF, Glimmering Star is their most powerful statement as a group. On this album, the pace of the songs and playing has slowed to a possessed crawl, which works beautifully for Mukai’s writing, which has long been informed by the melodies of traditional English folk music. The magic in Ché-SHIZU, though, is the interaction between Mukai’s crumpled, mournful voice, and her playing of the er-hu, a bowed two-string instrument from China, which slips and slides in the cracks between notes. It all grants the album a powerful haziness, even as the stridency of a song like “The Great Bird” threatens to take off like Fairport Convention at their most elemental.

Jon Dale

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