Return Visit to Rock Mass album cover
Return Visit to Rock Mass

Maher Shalal Hash Baz

1996
Org Records

It’s always felt like a foolhardy, but totally wild thing to do – release a triple-album set by a group most people had barely heard of, even within Japan. The reasoning was simple enough: Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s Tori Kudo agreed to the release only if it would document every song he’d written to date. That didn’t quite end up playing out, though there are still 83 songs here. It’s the perfect encapsulation of this first phase of Maher Shalal Hash Baz: naïve pop that’s about the interplay between Kudo’s guitar and Hiroo Nakazaki’s euphonium, rich with happy-sad melodies. Some songs are fully formed, blessed with a graceful lilt; others are sketches of ideas, a few instruments tracing the basic contours of a melody or a phrase. Throughout, Kudo’s embrace of imperfection means the album is never predictable. By any measure, a perfect album, and visionary in the most unexpected but inspiring ways.

Jon Dale

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