Kishi Bashi

Kishi Bashi


With his use of violin and high, floating vocals, the best word we can use to describe Kishi Bashi’s music is ethereal. He is not afraid to experiment with snapping, looping, and beat boxing to create the melodies that seem to soar over his listeners. The lyrics on their own may seem fantastical and obscure, but in the context of the accompaniment, there is a seamless flow between words and music.

Within his lyrics, there often is a story embedded in the songs. Each of them gives a piece of a narrative that we do not see the beginning or end of, but only a small moment in time. For instance, the song Into/Pathos, Pathos tells a story,

One day
You and me
Again under the tall tree
Passion, passion
We’ll both look up in merriment
You’d said to me,
“climb quickly!
There’s two birds
You’ll miss them
Before they fly their separate ways”
I miss you…
I’ll miss you

Listeners are left to wonder about the context and imagine the broader story that is left untold in songs like this one. It is not given to us, but alluded to, which is why they can be confusing. They do not explain the entire story and do not always seem to logically make sense, but that could be what Kishi Bashi is aiming for. Confusion forces us to look closer and think harder about the music that we are listening to.

Within the chaos that comes out in the lyrics, certain elements do make sense. The sense of pain and sorrow that pervades the narrative is one of the aspects that we understand all too well. When looking at the lyrics, we find ourselves asking why he is missing somebody or hurting in other ways. Then it becomes apparent that asking that question is the point. Kishi Bashi is mimicking life by making a confusing narrative in which there is not always an answer to the questions readily available. We ask, play it over in our heads, and suggest reasons, but are not entirely satisfied.

- Avery Johnson

Calvin Performances

  • September 25, 2013; 8pm, Ladies Literary Club