Takeshi Nishimoto - Monologue

George Bass 21/02/2007

Rating: 3/5

Takeshi Nishimoto has taken a break from wielding his axe on behalf of I'm Not A Gun to put out Monologue, a thirty-seven minute plectrum odyssey which could comfortably serve as an unplugged rival to Joe Satriani's amp-busting tutelage. If that sounds like overactive hype then give him a Google: Nishimoto's lifelong study of the guitar has taken him all round the globe, and he's learnt enough about his field to successfully apply the Marmite philosophy to his first solo album, i.e. spread thinly for best results. His Houdini-like finger work is never let too far off the leash, but the textures he creates stop safely short of the puritanical side of pure. Put it this way: if he was to start busking in Oxford Circus tube station, soundtrack scouts would be flinging him business cards instead of the odd 20p.

Opener Memory 4am is a gentle serving of wormhole flamenco, a score appropriated from an unmade Mediterranean sci-fi epic. There's no gushes of synth or sweeping strings to provide the images here, though - just the noble sound of a bloke making the six strings in his arms count for as much as possible. The nimble rawness of the material on Monolgue is one of its greatest assets, and Nishimoto uses his instrumental prowess to calmly demonstrate his craft rather than kick sand in the listener's face. He gives his songwriting an earthy flavour - not unlike Australian three-piece Dirty Three - but it doesn't hamper the scope of his music. In fact, the strapline for the record might very well be "post-rock in a powercut". At nigh on eight minutes, Coming Home appears to be the most skippable of the tracks on the album, but Nishimoto's tropical riffs and symmetrical chords keep it ticking over nicely. Then you've got the likes of Voice 1 - Slow Door, clipped down to a mere minute and cute as an adult reworking of the Bagpuss theme. It's one of three brisk 'interludes' on the album, and helps break up some of the lengthier chapters just in case you get dizzy from too much chewing.

Given that commercial music has to feature lyrics, percussion and radio-ready melodies to be deemed marketable, Nishimoto has done a sterling job with Monologue. It's unlikely to burn up the disco floor, and anyone in a hurry might write it off as music to read menus to, but it serves its purpose well enough: a clear voice in a rabble of genres. If you give it the patience it deserves and put down your crispy duck pancakes, you'll see it bristles with some finely sculpted sonic nuances, and a sense of adventure that's been round the world more times than Christopher Reeve.