4 Bonjour’s Parties’ Pigments Drift Down to the Brook
One of the many aspects of music that I have always found fulfilling relates to how influences have no cultural boundaries. While traditional music that holds some merit toward a country’s cultural values and historical contexts should be universally embraced, the fact that music has become a stylistic melting pot of sorts should convince cynics that musicians will never simply run out of ideas. Though the technological advances in worldwide communication are contributing to the rapid withdrawal of exclusively cultural lifestyles and beliefs, the advances in intercultural competence are becoming especially prevalent, thanks in part to the allocation of opinions regarding the developments of creating and listening to music. In this regard, cultural relativism seems to be becoming more abundant, at least in the sense that musical styles are overlapping more than ever. Virtually every prominent international artist is now at the fingertips of anyone with Internet access, as are many unrecognizable ones that would have been excited to merely get a mention in their own country, nonetheless one that is thousands of miles away. Over the past few years, I have done my best in exposing a wide variety of artists from all over the world, with one reason being that I feel everyone should be exposed to quality music regardless of its geographical origins. Another reason, though, is also rooted in the fact that I personally find artists who successfully mix both cultural and stylistic preferences to be genuinely fascinating.
If one were to sift through the Japanese on 4 Bonjour’s Parties‘ web site, it would be quite evident that the seven-piece are a perfect example of this culturally impartial ideology. Devoting a section on their site to an organized table that individually displays each of the band members’ instruments, influences, hobbies, and birthdays, the most immediately noticeable aspect of this band’s composure is the group’s cumulative multi-instrumental ability. Five of the seven are capable of playing three or more instruments, a rather indicative display of the group’s full-fledged sound. Upon further inspection though, what was most striking to me was their individualistic influences. Whether they chose to show their regard for American rock acts like Radiohead and Animal Collective, legendary French composers of the past in the vein of Serge Gainsbourg and Michel Legrand, or native Japanese artists like Sunny Day Service and Eiichi Ohtaki, the references were eclectic enough to make their audible talent not at all surprising. And as you can see, their influences derive from all over the world, being synonymous with their subtly ingenious style of play. Despite each member possessing a differing collection of favorite artists, the fact that all of their choices are within the same stylistic realm is one of the reasons for their very compelling sound. It can most certainly be attributed to a solid working relationship, one that is obviously productive considering the high degree of sheer success that their full-length debut delivers upon.
While the Tokyo-based septet appear willing to capitalize upon their sound of their influences – as broad as they may be – in a form that is cumulatively productive, some may initially feel inclined to call the group’s stylistic direction indecisive before giving them a listen. After all, how is a band expected to blend elements of contemporary indie-rock and post-rock, French orchestral pop, ‘60s psychedelia, and classic Japanese folk music into one cohesive album? Well, the only productive response to skepticism in this case is to create a style that is purely your own, and this is exactly what 4 Bonjour’s Parties did with their debut, Pigments Drift Down to the Brook. The album title proves to be startlingly appropriate, with the meshing of styles practically representing a variety of colors in themselves as they slowly collide and overlap to create something that the eyes (or the ears in this case) have never seen (or heard) before. Figurative guesswork aside, the presentation on Pigments Drift Down to the Brook simply has to be heard to get a true grasp of. The seven-piece somehow find a way to manage incorporating dozens of different forms of instrumentation – from guitars, bass, and percussion to brass, woodwinds, and samplers – to create something that is magnificently cohesive and dazzlingly gratifying.
With half of the ten songs on Pigments Drift Down to the Brook exceeding six minutes in length, duration is one of the reasons why 4 Bonjour’s Parties are able to craft such stylistically multifarious efforts with such seamlessness. They do not rush in demonstrating the expansion of their ideas, instead choosing to take their time with their ideas; it is one of the aspects that contributes to the overall success of the release. The progressively epic “Satellite” evolves in the first minute from a singular key progression to an extremely expansive accompaniment featuring a bustling rhythm and several simultaneous uses of woodwind instruments. When the woodwinds subside, the chorus enters and establishes a mood that is both tranquil and dramatically effective. Some very traditional high-pitched Japanese female vocals soon accompany the initial male lead vocals, forming an overlapping bundle of pure beauty that is complemented superbly by a gently intricate electric guitar arpeggio in the background. “I feel some confusion,” they sing together, a rather stark statement considering the remarkably layered sets of instrumentation that are behind them. From this point on, the song concludes in epic form, showcasing a brass or woodwind solo here and there to the occasional re-emergence of the aforementioned chorus. When it all settles down with the gentle croon of a saxophone over the dying patter of a reverbed drum, a realization concerning the track’s brilliance should arrive to even the most inattentive listener.
The equally beautiful “Ruins” sees a change in the lead vocalist, a common occurrence throughout the album as the group appears wisely willing to capitalize on having both a very capable male and female vocalist. Angelic females lead here, with the male vocals eventually being melodically reflective during the verses. She takes the chorus on her own though, backed by little more than a prominent bass line and a dynamically soothing guitar progression. The bridge then introduces a twinkle of keys as the male vocals re-emerge, preparing for round two of this stunning effort. It then follows a barren instrumental approach for a bit, with keys serving as the lead over the initial vocal melody. All of the instruments return in shared form though, and they do so in a way that allows the listener to remember just how many chills ran up their spine when hearing the track’s chorus for the first time. I personally consider “Satellite” and “Ruins” to showcase 4 Bonjour’s Parties at their absolute best, but tracks like the expansively exotic “Ksana” and the atmospheric free-jazz of “Otogima Horse” show that 4 Bonjour’s Parties have the potential to find success in a similar way to that of their influences: all over the world.