Shoukichi Kina – Pascal Plantinga: Washinnayo
Washinnayo (Don’t Forget) is the result of a meeting between Okinawa’s most famous singer, musician, and political activist Shoukichi Kina and Dutch composer and electronic music experimentalist Pascal Plantinga. The two got together last year when Plantinga was on a visit to Okinawa and they recorded four songs at Kina’s studio in Naha. With basic recordings in the bag Plantinga returned to Europe to work his wizardry with a juxtaposition of mostly sparse arrangements featuring bass, electronics and field recordings added to Kina’s vocals and sanshin.
It’s the singing which is outstanding on these arrangements and it is fascinating to listen to Kina’s voice stripped of its usual accompaniment in a way that hasn’t been tried quite like this before. Plantinga’s devotion to Okinawan music is obvious but he is not afraid to experiment in order to find the sounds that he wants. Sometimes the results are more atmospheric than melodic and as such might not be to everyone’s liking but the recordings are always intriguing and Kina is at his most expressive and emotional throughout.
The songs are the traditional ‘Kunjan Sabakui’ and ‘Shirutuyaa Guwa’, plus Choki Fukuhara’s ‘Munushiri Bushi’ and the Shoukichi Kina original ‘Shima Guwa’. The choice of songs was crucial and it was discussed long and hard between the pair. Plantinga was keen to steer Kina away from the temptation to record yet more versions of ‘Hana’ or ‘Haisai Ojisan’ which would have been the safer but lazier option. The opening track ‘Kunjan Sabakui’ is particularly successful with its explosive arrangement fully complementing Kina’s passionate vocal.
Simply as an artefact Washinnayo is also very much worth possessing. It comes packaged as two double singles on 7 inch vinyl records together with an additional mini-CD of the same recordings. The deluxe gatefold sleeve was designed by interdisciplinary artist Toyoko Shimada. All song arrangements are by Plantinga who co-produced the recordings with German electronic music pioneer Pyrolator. English translations of all the songs are included.