高円寺百景 is a zeuhl/Progressive Rock band from Kōenji, Tōkyō Prefecture, Japan, formed in 1991. Their name is romanised several different ways in official sources, most commonly either Koenjihyakkei or Koenji Hyakkei, although Koenji-Hyakkei and KoenjiHyakkei have also been seen. Their name roughly translates as Hundred Sights of Koenji, which is also the English-language title of their first album; it serves as a Shout-Out to One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (富岳百景, Fugaku hyakkei, 1834-1835) by master Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai Katushika (葛飾北斎, 1760-1849), as well as to a novel of the same title (1939) by Japanese novelist Osamu Dazai (太宰治, 1909-1948). To date, they have released five studio albums and four live DVDs. The sole constant member is vocalist, drummer, and main songwriter Tatsuya Yoshida (吉田達也), who is also the main creative force and sole member of Ruins, a (usually) drum-and-bass duo that performs in an otherwise fairly similar style.
Koenjihyakkei's music is fairly similar to that of Magma, the French band who served as Trope Makers and Trope Namers for zeuhl, but Koenjihyakkei's music is typically even more frenetic and intense, often demonstrating influence from metal and hardcore punk that isn't evident in Magma's music. Their music, like Magma's is performed almost entirely in a Conlang (one track from the first album, "Zoltan", is a kyrie in Latin), although unlike Magma's, the meaning of their Conlang has never been clarified. Their music contains most of the characteristics expected of zeuhl, including diverse instrumentation, frenetic drumming, frequent time signature changes, harsh and operatic male and female vocals, and lengthy compositions that often top the ten-minute mark. They are one of the most acclaimed bands to emerge from the Japanese prog rock underground, and for those inclined to intense experimental music, their output will be consistently engaging and adventurous. Most others will run screaming from the room.
Sadly, original vocalist/pianist Aki Kubota (久保田安紀), who was also the founding member of similar act Bondage Fruit, passed away in 2018.
- 1994 - 高円寺百景 (Hundred Sights of Koenji)
- 1998 - 弐(II) (also known in Western markets as Viva Koenji!)
- 2001 - Nivraym
- 2005 - Angherr Shisspa
- 2018 - Dhorimviskha
- 2002 - Live at Star Pine's Cafe
- 2006 - Live at Doors
- 2008 - 070531
- 2010 - Live at Koenji High
One Hundred Tropes of Koenji
- All Drummers Are Animals, Dumb and Drummer: Strongly averted; Yoshida is the founder and main creative force behind the band - though he does have an extremely frenetic style.
- Conlang: Their music is apparently sung in one, with only a few exceptions. The meaning of the words isn't entirely clear, and some people have speculated that it's really Singing Simlish instead.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The first official Koenjihyakkei release that "Dhorimviskha" and "Phlessttighas" appeared on was... Live at Koenji High, eight years before their studio releases. Since this was a DVD-only live release, many fans probably never heard the live versions.
- Epic Rocking: Par for the course with this style. Their longest studio composition is "Dhorimviskha" (11:47). A complete list of performances topping the six-minute mark:
- Hundred Sights of Koenji: "Avedumma" (7:26)
- Viva Koenji: "Grembo Zavia" (10:16), "Rissenddo Rraimb" (9:20), "Guoth Dahha" (9:46)
- Nivraym: "Lussesoggi Zomn" (10:26), "Mederro Passquirr" (6:23), "Axall Hasck" (6:34), "Gassttrumm" (9:24)
- Live at Star Pine's Cafe: "Grembo Zavia" (9:47), "Mederro Passquirr" (6:06), "Guoth Dahha" (8:18), "Axall Hasck" (7:05), "Gassttrumm" (10:59), "Lussesoggi Zomn" (9:40), "Rissenddo Rraimb" (9:47)
- Angherr Shisspa: "Tziidall Raszhisst" (7:17), "Rattims Friezz" (7:05), "Fettim Paillu" (7:48), "Angherr Shisspa" (6:37), "Wammilica Iffirom" (8:39)
- Live at Doors: "Medley ~ Avedumma ~ Rissenddo Rraimb ~ Grembo Zavia" (8:17), "Nivraym" (6:29), "Angherr Shisspa" (6:34), "Rattims Friezz" (6:55), "Fettim Paillu" (8:57), "Tziidall Raszhisst" (7:26), "Wammilica Iffirom" (9:00)
- 070531: "Improvisation A" (8:52), "Improvisation B" (8:34), "Improvisation C" (7:54), "Improvisation D" (8:21), "Improvisation E" (9:54), "Improvisation F" (9:49), "Angherr Shisspa" (8:12), "Rattims Friezz" (7:18), "Fettim Paillu" (10:46), "Axall Hasck" (9:32), and "Vissqaguell" (7:03) - so every track except for "Sunna Zarioki". Note that although the improvisation is divided into six tracks, that's mostly for ease of navigation - there are only two notable gaps, meaning that the band's improvisations respectively lasted for 17:26, 16:14, and 19:43.
- Live at Koenji High: "Rattims Friezz" (7:24), "Dhorimviskha" (11:18), "Phlessttighas" (6:36), "Fettim Paillu" (10:18), "Angherr Shisspa" (8:19), "Wammilica Iffirom" (10:11).
- Dhorimviskha: "Vreztemtraiv" (10:19), "Levhorm" (9:11), "Zjindhaiq" (7:32), "Phlessttighas" (6:22), "Djebelaki Zomn" (9:49), "Palbeth Tissilaq" (6:09), "Dhorimviskha" (11:47). For those keeping score, that's the whole album. Vinyl copies have a piano-only version of "Levhorm" as a bonus track, which also runs for around nine minutes.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Their live DVDs. The album 070531 was recorded on May 31, 2007; the date is simply written in yymmdd format, which is commonplace in Japan. The reason they titled it after the date of the performance is that it was at Star Pine's Cafe, where they'd already recorded their first live DVD.
- Lead Drummer: Yoshida qualifies as a Face of the Band, a Virtuoso, and a Genre Lead.
- Longest Song Goes Last: Angherr Shisspa closes with "Wammilica Iffirom" (8:39) and Dhorimviskha closes with "Dhorimviskha" (11:47).
- Loudness War: Perhaps surprisingly for a band whose main creative force is the drummer, their works are affected pretty badly by this. Most of their music clips audibly, particularly at the loud parts.
- Mood Whiplash: They employ it frequently. "Fettim Paillu" has a good example, opening as a Lonely Piano Piece with a slow, moody, operatic female vocal before transitioning abruptly into an intense, chanted segment with the full band in frenetic Uncommon Time.
- Soprano and Gravel: You'll find harsh and operatic male and female vocals mixed throughout their songs.
- Spiritual Successor: To Magma. This was Yoshida's explicit intention in forming the band, in fact.
- Uncommon Time: Expect every song that's longer than about three minutes to have at least half a dozen time signatures and to shift between them at a moment's notice. Koenjihyakkei actually take this up to eleven by sometimes varying the tempo of each beat within a given part of a track, which gives their music an even more erratic feel.