"Je prie pour que la goutte ne tombe pas" (I pray that the drop does not fall) is the first international release by Japanese trio Chi To Shizuku. While they have released five albums and a 7” in Japan, their spectral, haunted rock songs haven’t yet reached a much wider audience overseas. With this album, then, a live recording taken at Koenji HIGH, Suginami, Tokyo on 23rd November 2021, the unique, quartz-like character of Chi To Shizuku’s music is writ large, the bleak bliss of their songs carved onto twelve-inch vinyl.
Perhaps the best-known member of Chi To Shizuku, at least for audiences with an ear turned to Japanese psychedelia, is drummer Takahashi Ikuro, known for his membership of almost every group worth a damn from that scene – Fushitsusha, Nagisa Ni Te, Ché-SHIZU, Kousokuya, High Rise, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, LSD March, the list goes on. But the core of Chi To Shizuku’s music is the collaboration between vocalist, bassist and lyricist Morikawa Seiichirou, and guitarist and arranger Yamagiwa Hideki. Morikawa is a member of long- running punk/goth group Z.O.A., and has also played with YBO2, Zzzoo, and as collaborator with Takeshi and Atsuo of Boris in A/N; he’s also recently been performing with Mitsuru Tabata. Yamagiwa’s history takes in stints with Katsurei and Cock C’ Nell, and he also recently guested with la scene 裸身.
All this contextual information does relatively little, though, to prepare you for the unique vibration of Chi To Shizuku’s lustrous songs. They shimmer in the same half-light, perhaps, as Shizuka and the quieter moments of LSD March, sharing a similar poise and classicism, and there’s a tenderness and wracked poetry to Morikawa’s voice that reminds of the emotional intensities both of traditional Japanese folk, and of British folk music: on “Musuu No Nemuri No Naka De Kumo Wo Tukamu”, the combination of his singing, backed with gorgeously plangent guitar, reminds of no-one so much as it does The Pentangle or Spriguns Of Tolgus. Chi To Shizuku’s love for the ballad as form gifts their music an archaic, sometimes arcane resonance, and from what you can hear on this album, it’s clear they’re in love with graceful melancholy.
But this is not a folk album, by any means; it just shivers with the same eternal spirit. There are also hints of prog rock, and you can catch some passages of scratchy, distended free rock, on the extended spirit invocation of “Nanhito Hanhito”. je prie pour que la goutte ne tombe pas is an extraordinary album, a melancholy surprise, that reminds dedicated listeners of the seemingly bottomless well of great music to be found via the Japanese underground in its many forms. Perhaps Michel Henritzi says it best, though, in his liner notes, when he writes, “Chi To Shizuku’s music reminds us that our life is a dream that lasts only a season, and that oblivion will follow.”