Flower Travellin' Band

SXSW showcase reviews

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Flower Travellin' Band

Smokin' Music, Thursday, March 19

In Zen Buddhism, satori – the title of Flower Travellin' Band's 1971 opus – is a term used to describe individual enlightenment, often emerging as a burst of sudden awareness. In the case of the FTB's eagerly anticipated South by Southwest showcase, the last of five shows marking the band's first-ever American tour, that sensation struck like a hot flash with the opening notes of the Far Eastern epic "Satori, Pt. 1." Playing together for the first time in 35 years, the Japanese psychedelic pioneers resembled Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai: composed, masterful, and deeply compelling. Hideki Ishima has transcended the sitarla, whose long and wide neck combines qualities of the guitar and sitar, creating a smooth and rich tone that complements his disarming instrumental meditations. With dreadlocks to his waist, vocalist Joe Yamanaka – the closest thing the Land of the Rising Sun has to a golden god – drifted in and out of the music like some sort of mystical spirit, his iron shriek piercing deep and easily when called for. The most notable difference was the addition of keyboardist Nobuhiko Shinohara, whose bright organ fills lent a progressive air to the quintet's new material from We Are Here, especially a slow blues lament, which sounded like Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" filtered through a distinctly Japanese looking glass. This was music of the spheres conducted by awakened giants. In a word: satori.

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