In 2005, Michio Kurihara released his first solo album, Sunset Notes, on Japan’s respected Pedal Records. It was a long time coming for the guitarist, whose musicianship has enlightened such groups as Ghost, Damon & Naomi, White Heaven, The Stars and Yura Yura Teikoku. Kurihara is not one to indulge in the spotlight (in fact, he often literally ducks away from it), and that attitude reflects strongly in his guitar playing style. Never do you hear a straight phrase from him. Instead, he often decorates around the edges, bringing forward a sense of a song’s structure and identity through delicate brush strokes.
The songs on Sunset Notes reflect this approach. While embracing a variety of styles and techniques (a gentle song sung by Pedal pop star Ai Aso, is followed by a snakelike instrumental psych workout, which is followed by a Branca-esque distorted tsunami of guitars, and so on), the album maintains a focus around Kurihara’s ingenius guitar playing. Sunset Notes is a mind-expanding, exciting album — beautifully arranged, precisely executed, and an absolute thrill to hear.