Shakari: Onkochishin

Shakari’s new album Onkochishin is released to coincide with the 15th anniversary of their formation. Now a duo, Shakari is really all about singer Chiaki and is primarily a showcase for her vocals. She is from Chatan and made her debut in 1993 as a backing vocalist with well-known band Diamantes before leaving after five years to form Shakari. The other member of the duo is percussionist and sanshin player Kannari who was once a member of Okinawa’s popular Rinken Band.

Shakari have released several albums including a 10th anniversary compilation of their best work. Their default mode is a kind of Western pop setting of island flavoured original songs which has echoes of Parsha Club but with the emphasis on the singing and smooth production rather than the sanshin playing. In fact, Parsha Club bassist Masaaki Uechi is one of several musicians who guest on the new album. Another is Toru Yonaha on fue and whistle.

Shakari

Onkochishin is a major departure for Shakari as for the first time the album contains all traditional minyo and classical Ryukyu dance music and songs. Chiaki has a very appealing voice and shows herself to be well up to the task. She also plays sanshin throughout the album. The classical pieces will surprise those who are more familiar with Shakari’s pop style. The classical tracks are interspersed with band versions of traditional Okinawan songs such as ‘Hyakuna Bushi’, ‘Katami Bushi’ and ‘Toshin Doi’. Some tracks include two pieces combined such as ‘Tanchame Bushi~Ichihanari Bushi’ and the classical ‘Takiotoshi~Kagiyadefu Bushi’.

The arrangements of minyo are not particularly different from anything Shakari have done previously and the album as a whole is not as groundbreaking as, say, the Oshima/Keezer collaboration or even the recent album by Kazutoshi Matsuda. Nevertheless, this is Shakari’s most interesting release and they must be congratulated for taking this new look at their island roots which is presented with such obvious skill and sincerity.

Onkochishin is released by KJC Music.

www.syakari.jp

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