Home » Jazz Articles » Ché-SHIZU: A Journey

Album Review

Ché-SHIZU: A Journey


Sign in to view read count
Ché-SHIZU: A Journey
If you ever wondered why John Zorn lived in Japan for much of the 1980s, the answer is: for the music. These were the days before eBay and Discogs, when hunting for a recording by Keiji Haino required a trip to Tokyo or Osaka. Zorn, of course, brought much of what he heard back to the States, recording Haino, Yamatsuka Eye, Ruins, Ikue Mori, and Otomo Yoshihide for his Tzadik label and incorporating the Japanese aesthetic into his compositions.

One of the creative artists he was listening to was Chie Mukai. Mukai was a member of the improvising East Bionic Symphonia group, performing on her er-hu (Chinese violin) and piano. She formed the improvisation-folk band Ché-SHIZU in the 1980s and this mini-masterpiece A Journey was released in 1994 on P.S.F Records. The label had attained cult status, releasing hard-to-find (outside of Japan) recordings by Acid Mothers Temple, Ghost, Fushitsusha, and Peter Brötzmann.

Enter Black Edition Records, which has begun remastering and reissuing P.S.F recordings on high quality vinyl (and digital). A Journey is a key piece for appreciating the creative Japanese music scene, but also the work of many Downtown musicians, including Zorn, Bill Frisell, Jim O'Rourke, and Bobby Previte. Chie Mukai created this mélange of music by blending catchy pop, medieval chamber hymns and folky blues with quirky waltzes, and even an a cappella version of "Llibre Vermell de Montserrat," from a 14th century Catalonian manuscript. Yes, it is that eclectic. It may be better to call the music encyclopedic. Songs are sung in both Japanese and English. At times bits and pieces of the electric Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are implied as are the sounds of Camper Van Beethoven. The second side of LP2 contains the two-part title track, "A Journey 1" and "A Journey 2," a gorgeous epic long-form flight of imagination that is part dreamscape and part imaginary soundtrack.

Track Listing

LP1: Juso Station; A Dream of Trousers; Vestige / Shadow; Tzitziki; Nokogiriyama No Inu; Nigihayahi; LP2: A Broad Daylight; Shaking by the Waves, Actually; Mariam Matrem; Inperayritz; Lovely on the Water; A Journey 1; A Journey 2;


Chie Mukai: vocal, er-hu, piano, tambourine; Takuya Nishimura: vocal, bass, guitar; Keita Koma: vocal, guitar; Shinji Shibayama: vocal, drums; Takafumi Sato: vocal, piano.

Album information

Title: A Journey | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Black Editions

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album



The Way of the Groove
Ben Patterson
Skopje Jazz Inc.
Times Like These
Nica Carrington


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.