I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to The Kitchen Gorilla’s new mini-album since buying it a week ago at the Tokyo rock trio’s show. But the number is very high. A clear indication of my rapturous love for this new CD, my voice, can be found in my iPod, which shows that I listened to one song in the album SEVENTEEN times in a single day. These part few days I might have looked like I was toiling down here on earth, but in reality I’ve been way up high in Kitchen Gorilla heaven, and I haven’t come down yet.
My voice opens with a chord that feels as dramatic as the ones that begin “Purple Rain” or “A Hard Day’s Night”. Drums pound like a quick heartbeat. The guitar rock is simple—the band once said their songs use only the most basic chords, and they make up for the simplicity with abundant spirit—but stays in the mind. And then there’s singer Kayo’s high voice, which I described in an earlier post as seeming to have a life of its own, a flirtatious Voice Being that might walk away from its owner.
In fact, my voice and another mini-album released earlier this year, One, are actually a two-part work that talks about Kayo’s voice, and how she nearly lost it when she developed a polyp in her throat that she underwent surgery last autumn to remove. The lyrics aren’t obvious; if you weren’t told so, you wouldn’t know that’s what inspired them. But sometimes, the words hit you, astonishing in their painful directness. She sings, for example, in “My Little World”: “If I could blame this suffering, that tangles and flows, on someone else/ would this red pain that flows down fade at least a little?” In the title track, Kayo sings: “I’ll sing as many times as I can/ so don’t disappear/ this, my voice”. Words like those reveal the human being behind the high-pitched voice.
For all that, my voice isn’t at all a dark-sounding album. The third song, “Sensation”, for instance, is a great spirited rocker in which Kayo sometimes nearly barks the lyrics. “TKG”, the fifth tune, is the song I listened to seventeen times in a day, and is a minute and a half of super-concentrated rock ‘n’ roll energy. It is about the band (the title is an abbreviation of the band’s name) and how they want to “sing songs that are overflowing with love”.
Listening to songs like “TKG”, “my voice” and “Sensation”, I recall shows of their I’ve been to, like last Friday’s, where as she sang Kayo’s eyes turned watery and glimmered (she said later that singing that night made her so happy she wanted to cry); the female drummer, U-co, pounded the drums with an expression of utter concentration, as if in a trance; Coufull, the guitarist, spun around playing his riffs, like he was in his own world, though of course he was intensely connected with the rest of the band.
It’s only by coincidence that I learned about The Kitchen Gorilla: they had a song in a compilation album I bought, and I liked that song enough that I decided to check them out live. Now I’m hooked, and honestly, it makes me UNHAPPY that it is hard to find this group’s music even in Japan and nearly impossible to buy their stuff abroad. I intend to work to fix this, so that those interested can at least hear samples of this fabulous band’s music.