Kudou Namio is the son of infamous Maher Shalal Hash Baz band leader Kudou Torii. I bought this CD at one of Torii's shows a few months back and was expecting Namio to be a bit of a chip off the old block. But I was pretty surprised when Namio's pitch black piano dirges turned out to be about as far removed from Torii's trademark breezy, clumsy pop stlye as you can imagine. Following a show last week I was lucky enough to talk to Torii at length and he revealed the fascinating and harrowing story behind this record.
In 2005 Namio was living in London studying graphic design at a community college. On the 7th of July Namio was riding one of the 3 subway trains blown up by suicide bombers in what is now known as the 7/7 attacks. Namio survived the attacks with minor injuries but was even more shocked to learn that one of the suicide bombers that day had also been a friend of his from college. Shaken by the events Namio returned to Japan suffering from post traumatic stress and has since lived with his father Torii.
The album is a collection of dark, minimal piano ballads with lyrics that jump between sung and spoken word and sometimes drift into English. "Lord" for me is the album highlight, exposing the routes of his religious upbringing Namio's stream of consciousness spoken word paces over a simple piano appregio as he seemlessly switches between English and Japanese. The lyrics are striking and often spine chilling as you can sense his agitation and frustration.
Spring Rain is no doubt a dark and difficult album but is also very rewarding for those who stick with it. According to Torii while Namio is still not fully recovered but is thankfully doing much better these days.