‘Kwaidan’ is a concept album from Japanese artist Noah, beatmaker-photographer Repeat Pattern (aka BRRWD with Ta-ku) and US-based producer Teams. A collection of rich, reverb-soaked harmonies, the songs found on ‘Kwaidan’ reinterpret Japanese folk tales about ghosts and spirits presented, not in the usual tone of a ghost story but rather, in a romanticized air of normalcy and matter-of-factness. ‘Koi No Yume / 鯉の夢’, translated to “The Carp in My Dreams”, tells the story of a monk’s dream on his deathbed where he turns into a beautiful carp and swims freely through Lake Biwa. Director Takehito Goto brings this tale to life as he masterfully manipulates light, blurring it in slow-motion to create a dream-like state, perfectly fitting to the song’s sombre mood.
Teams, Repeat Pattern, and Noah, as a trio of musicians, came to work on Kwaidan together based on a demo Teams’ sent to Repeat Pattern for his record label BRRWD. After hearing Teams’ work Repeat Pattern asked, then friend, Noah if she would be interested in working with them to make something that none of them alone would create. Once Noah and Teams all agreed, Noah began making the trip to Repeat Pattern’s studio. During the process of recording and structuring vocals for the album, Repeat Pattern sent Noah and Teams the film Kwaidan which neither of them had previously seen.
When I first received the track from Teams and Repeat Pattern I imagined water, maybe in a pool. I was sure that the story of the monk who dreams about turning into a carp swimming in Lake Biwa, must be the perfect fit for this song. While recording, I imagined myself in a lake with sunshine beating down warming my body through the water just as the monk in the story had experienced. It’s a surreal fantasy to indulge in and indulge I did.”
The film’s theme of traditional Japanese ghost stories became the inspiration for Noah’s lyrics. However, where the movie’s colour is that of unrest and terror in relating to the encounters with the supernatural, Noah gives us something different. Something more like awe, wonder and sympathy for the spirits encountered. Once the album was finally completed, Noah shared the work with her label, Flau, and the rest you can probably guess.
Kwaidan is out now via Flau
Feature photo by Repeat Pattern