Shiina Ringo, “Ishiki” (“Consciousness”)
There you are, didgeridoo.
By this point in the album there has been so much sound, and there is such an airy momentum, you can start to worry that KZK has become nothing more than an accumulation of itself.
The dedication toward laying an unsettled foundation — the blown-out underneath and edges of “Shuukyo,” the glitchy assault of “Doppelgänger,” the staccato rockabilly pile-on of “Meisai,” the battling distractions of broadcast and feedback of “Odaiji ni,” the antsy orchestra of “Yattsuke Shigoto,” the warbled practical sounds of broken communication under the verses in “Kuki,” the comic call-and-response of “Torikoshi Kurou,” the quivering of the crickets in “Okonomi de,” and the didgeridoo and farty contrabass (and whatever electronic modifications to those there are) here — and the focus at providing relentless interruption leaves a listener unwilling to observe the physics of the album’s internal logic to float away or be swallowed up or in some other way find themselves lost.
But as complete a work as it is, KZK is not hermetically sealed, and the artist does not busy herself at throwing up bored, inscrutable obstructions. "Ishiki" can seem such a light and friendly piece of work until it hits that glorious, disruptive theater at the bridge — but that bridge isn’t a jarring, random bid to make the song more interesting than it is, it is clearly foreshadowed, it’s a frustrated tangent off the timekeeping cymbal taps at the end of the first chorus. It makes sense if you let it.
In this album Shiina Ringo has created a work that vibrates at its own frequency, and though her popcraft can provide a pathway — is there anything as easy to grab hold of as that four-note two-step octave drop at the beginning of the chorus? — her goal is never anything as ephemeral as pop satisfaction. The album’s power comes from the fact it is resolute and cohesive but never resolved. It’s that perfect word on the tip of your tongue.
Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the release of Shiina Ringo’s masterpiece Karuki Zamen Kuri no Hana. This is the ninth track.