Good booze, relaxing life and more or less simple pleasures are the motto of ever hedonistic Morry Ken, Japanese singer from Kushima. Not exactly a newcomer, he was one of the first, if not the very first, having recorded for indies label it’s Oh! MUSIC. It was back in 1991.
One who knows his rocking live performances throughout the peaceful island of Kyûshû might be surprised at the groovy, funky and overly synthetic sound of his newest single, “パズルの迷路”, roughly translated as “Maze Of The Puzzle”.
Unlike some previous releases from the Miyazaki-city label, there’s no karaoke version, only the two main songs, under an intriguing artwork.
Like previous songs penned by it’s Oh! MUSIC mogul Itsuo Hyûga, the Motown influence is quite pregnant, with frenzy synth-horns arrangements and groovy bass lines. However, it has a depth on its own and the pretty unique arrangement keeps the two pieces into a space that only belongs to themselves.
The first one, “パズルの迷路” (pronounce “Pazuru No Meirô”), is a brilliant jump-along piece of funk. Morry Ken’s voice is surprisingly warm for what would call for a female high-pitched cute voice, but this unlikely combination works perfectly.
The second track, “Lady”, conveys a more dramatic and heavy feel, coloured by a smooth touch of electronic percussion. Morry Ken’s vocal performance shows a more sensitive singer than his tough late-night bar goer image would lead to think, and the jazzy touch of the piano solo adds an obvious value to the tune.
Gilles Snowcat plays on both songs, but it’s not clear to figure out exactly what part his contribution represents on the final mix. When asked about the session, he merely commented “Oh, Morry Ken, good drinker he is. Very good drinker.” Musician’s concerns, uh?
To conclude, with Hyûga’s wall-of-sound production, emerging artists from the Japanese indie scene show a more versatile and creative side than one could expect with a genre that is often stuck on copying Seattle grunge two-chords hits. Morry Ken’s new release might not be what you hear every day on Western radio stations, and maybe that’s why you’d better take a chance on something new now.