I Am a Kamura | I Am a Kamura

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World: Japanese contemporary Folk: Alternative Folk Moods: Solo Female Artist
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I Am a Kamura

by I Am a Kamura

City and Eastern sounds from London based Japanese chanteuse Atsuko Kamura. Not folk, country or enka but overlapping all three.
Genre: World: Japanese contemporary
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Turning Back Pages
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2:28 $0.99
2. Firework
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3:25 $0.99
3. Jizo
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3:28 $0.99
4. Evaporation
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1:45 $0.99
5. Whisper
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2:17 $0.99
6. Blue Air
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3:35 $0.99
7. Bride-doll
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3:12 $0.99
8. Red Soil Soldier
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3:59 $0.99
9. Tenshi
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2:56 $0.99
10. La Chaviata
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2:10 $0.99
11. Aya San
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3:50 $0.99
12. Before Dawn
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Singer Atsuko Kamura began her career by juggling roles as karaoke bar hostess and punk chanteuse in Tokyo, performing with the agit-fem Polkadot Fire Brigade and The Honeymoons. Her arrival in London led to a spell with the situationist pranksters Frank Chickens, duetting with Kazuko Hohki. In parallel she has explored improvisation with such as Tenko, Fred Frith and John Zorn and in London alongside Charles Hayward and Lol Coxhill. She is currently also singer with Japanese folk-jazz big band Setsuban Bean Unit and performs as part of the improvising rock trio Superstrings. I am a Kamura play Chinese ballads from the thirties, Japanese folk song and self-penned material. She is backed by a four piece band including Simon King, Paul May, Matt Armstrong and Robert Storey, and on this recording by a string section.

I Am A Kamura album reviewed in Wire magazine
I Am A Kamura
. 
Divine CD

Atsuko Kamura's debut solo album is one of this year's most remarkable collection of songs, worthy to stand alongside Margareth Kammerer and Christoff Kurzmann's The Magic ID Project. More Irving Berlin than Berlin digital angst, however, I Am A Kamura are all about live playing and uncanny vocal delicacy. Are we in a hotel bar in 1930s downtown Fukuoka, Kamura's hometown in Japan? Or are those harps and strings from Wong Kar-Wai's heady 2046-style fantasies? In fact Kamura's music could only have been made right now and in London, for all its Japanese lyrics and faux-oriental touches over Latin rhythms. 
Kamura's pedigree is in Tokyo punk and Frank Chickens, while her collaborators hail from Kenny Process Team, Homelife and the UK Improv scene. Guitarist/producer Robert Storey has a lengthy track record of songwriting with Bing Selfish and the endlessly shapeshifting Murphies. Two of these songs are Chinese and Japanese traditional, while one ("La Chaviata") appears to owe something to Verdi, but the atmosphere of oriental daydream is well sustained throughout. "Jizo" sets out its trotting-horse beat, only to abandon drums for an intimate guitar breakdown. Much of the album's magic is like this - achieving power by leaving things out. Likewise the vocal performances, which are both spontaneous and understated. The impression is of chanteuse muscle being gently reined in. Most mysterious is "Aya San", where the isolated voice encounters Sylvia Hallett's violin and the full group entry is held back for several minutes.
 What a haunting piece of work this is - in a way it sounds as though it's been around for years. Beware; melodies like "Tenshi" and "Whisper" can lodge in the brain and refuse to budge.

Clive Bell Wire magazine, November 2008.


Reviews


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Panos

H. reccomented for the feasts and not only
a time-space-confusing-dreamlike-mood, quite cinematic-exotic, to return many times....H

Lenny


Imaginative arrangements and spirited performances make this something quite special. It may perhaps be somewhat comparable to Gary Lucas' Edge of Heaven recordings of Chinese ballads of the 1930's.

I've been a fan of Atsuko Kamura, from her time in the all female Mizutama Shobodan (Polka Dot Fire Brigade) of the 1980's. Her nimble and surprising bass playing was one of the highlights of their two albums. It's wonderful to finally have her first release as leader.

Kamura's collaborators are some of my favorite musicians from the unclassifiable LMC sector of the London scene.

Highly recommended.