Combining your musical heritage with the most current trends in modern music is probably one of the harder things to do in music. In most cases, there’s no middle ground there. You either come up with something really inventive and interesting or you end up with Frankenstein-like musical creations that don’t do justice to either the original folk musical influences or the modern musical trends you are trying to combine them with.
Japanese-born musician Nikki Matsumoto, who has spent 15 years in Los Angeles as a musician and composer, is obviously one of those courageous artists trying to tackle such a combination. Along with several musicians who play original Japanese/Asian instruments and those more accustomed to Western-style music, he assembled the Rock of Asia collective back in 2010.
Also, an activist and volunteer, the founder of NGO “Others 1st Initiative,” Matsumoto and Rock of Asia have come up with three releases commemorating the 10th anniversary of its first release on March 11th, 2011. It so happens that the great North Japan Earthquake and Tsunami happened on that same day.
Right after the Tsunami hit the Northern part of Japan in 2011, he immediately reached out to the victims and spent months in Iwate , one of the hardest-hit areas, helping people.
Asian Anthology, one of the three releases is brimming with interesting ideas and musical combinations. “Belief” sounds like the archetypal ’70s L.A. soft rock with an Asian twist, while “The Parallel” is like a take on the melodic side of melodic prog rock, again passed through the filter of Matsumoto and his collective.
With 14 tracks it is quite a hefty release, but one that is worthy of investigation for all listeners that don’t shy away from something new and ‘old,’ at the same time.
Rock of Asia – ‘Asian Anthology’ Reaction
Nikki Matsumoto and his group, Rock of Asia, deliver an inventive take on Asian roots/prog rock fusion.