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Home » Classic in Field » HANIWA ALLSTARS, THE

Just stunning. I have followed Kiohiko Semba since I first encountered Wha Ha Ha, in Tokyo, in the early '80s: master drummer, eccentric genius and all round prankster, he then produced one of the truly great records of the decade: Kanishabali. Now, this DVD documents another of his '80s projects: The Haniwa Allstars - in this version, a massive 54 piece costumed ensemble, featuring both western and traditional, electric and acoustic instruments, accompanied by a succession of singers who collectively rip through a programme of original and covered materials. There is an open-ness to every level of serious and frivolous music here, and a kind of joy in mixing it all up that I have only ever seen work convincingly in Japan (Zappa covered much of the ground, but always came to it through the dark glass of irony, Sun Ra was closer, but eschewed normality and made high cultural claims. Haniwa does neither of these things, resting its case instead on intelligent fun). The DVD is beautifully and professionally made, and a joy to watch and listen to: the musicianship is breathtaking, the arrangements fantastic, and there is minute attention to detail with no apparent effort as well as humour with no implicit criticism. Add discipline, a kind of enigmatic modesty, and a refreshing respect for the essence of things (their version of YMCA is an education) and you get pure 90 minutes of pure pleasure.. That they managed to do it at all, and then that it was so well documented - well what are the odds of that? A phenomenon. Japanese import in limited supply.L

Code: MHBL1039
Price: £23.50