OLDIES: Long Season by Fishmans

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Fishmans were a band from Japan, where musical genres cease to exist the way the do in the Western World. However, Fishmans are generally considered to be a dub band. They were primarily active during the 1990s and released 7 albums, of which Long Season is the their 6th. Fishmans disbanded in 1998 after their final concert on December 5th of that year, which was recorded as a live album. Their bassist, Yuzuru Kashiwabara, was leaving the band after this show but members Shinji Sato and Kin-ichi Motegi still planned on releasing new music as Fishmans, but Sato tragically died the following March of heart problems before the band could release any new music. They’ve remained one of the most influential Japanese indie bands and current big Japanese bands such as OOIOO and Bonobos have done covers and tributes to Fishmans.

Despite not being able to decipher what Shinji Sato is saying throughout the album, Long Season very much feels as if it’s a storytelling album. The album is split into 5 parts that are all titled “Long Season”. There are common music elemnts, loops and sounds that are repeated throughout the entire album, which gives it a contingent feel and makes it best enjoyed if the album is listened all the way through. There are certainly dub elements all over the place, but trying to compare this directly to the type of dub music you’d find out of Kinston seems silly. There are pretty clear elements of dream pop and psychedelic rock also found in the album, which really gives Fishmans their distinct sound. This album is nothing short of inspiring and it still feels just as magical as the first time I heard it. I don’t think there’s a better album I could recommend to someone who is trying to get more into Japanese music, because Fishmans are such a shining example of their culture and influenced an entire generation of Japanese musicians. All of their albums are extremely worthwhile listens, especially their live album, but Long Season feels like their Magnum Opus that really defines what they were trying to accomplish. I really hope you guys enjoy this one even half as much as I do.

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