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Hyakkei: A Lost Gem Of 2000s J Rock

Primrose Patterns

redwood Cannons-

The sequoia branches

trace the lips

of the carmine sky-

A mighty crow

is but a dimple

on the dandelion skin-

What a joy it is

to cry in motherly arms

Poetry and music have a timeless relationship that has spanned centuries. The two art forms go hand in hand in several ways and give us an outlet to express our feelings, emotions and so much of ourselves. The poem above came about through a writing exercise. I have been in, how one would say, a writing clusterfuck and have been looking for any inspiration. So, what I like to do when I can’t create is put on a random song that I like and let it play through the recommended songs. When I find something that connects to me, I’ll write down an ode to the song. While doing one of these practices, I discovered a song、まほうのじゅうたん (Flying Carpet) by Hyakkei. This four-minute instrumental rock song resonated with me in a way that hasn’t happened to me in a long time (since finding Halo by MONO to be specific). In my attempt to find more from this band, I was led down a short but interesting rabbit hole with a disappointing end.

Hyakkei is a Japanese post-rock band composed of three members, Kiyabu Natsuku, Nakamoto Shuhei, and Tanaka Ken. The band was formed in 2003 in Osaka, Japan. They released their first album in 2006 named Standing Still In A Moving Scene. This twelve-track album served as a proper introduction to the band's soothing and hypnotic sound. Standouts from the album include tracks 7x7 and Kagefumi. Their next and most famous release came three years later in 2009 named Okurimono. This album serves as the band's magnum opus, a twelve-track journey that emanates feelings of nostalgia and nature. The name Orukimono translates into English as gift/present. Defined by tracks like Flying Carpet and Reading, the album is a highlight amongst JRock’s best including the likes of Long Season by Fishmans. Unfortunately, this would be their last full-length project with their final release being an EP in 2010. Toku Wo Tsunagu Mono(Things That Connect) is a five-track sendoff that encapsulates the band's style and vibe. Since 2010, Hyakkei has been radio silent with the band possibly on hiatus. 

Though the band has had little to no activity, their drummer, Tanaka Ken has been active in a solo career. Ken has released three solo albums since the band's halting, the latest being Coffee and Loops in 2017. Ken's solo work consists of overlapping instrumentals and live guitar/drumming. His stuff is worth checking out, more specifically his album neiro-04. Ken is in love with an instrumental sound that invokes “beautiful Japanese landscapes”. This is quite literal as Hyakkei translates out to “hundreds of landscapes”, which makes a ton of sense having listened through.

Although there haven't been any new projects since I was seven years old, Hyakkei will be forever immortalized in this small magazine blog made by a college student. In all seriousness, Hyakkei is just a small piece of the world that is post-rock and J Rock. If you are ever looking for new music or need a background song to listen to while watching the sunset, I implore you to check out their stuff. At the end of the day, life is too short to not try new things. Okay, enough of the mom quotes now. Give it a listen, enhance your taste, and live VASH.

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