Wildy’s World review

Here’s an excerpt from Wildy’s World review of “Ume in the Middle”:

On Ensemble is a rarity in the realms of popular music; they are wholly original. Ostensibly a Taiko ensemble (ancient Japanese drumming), On Ensemble mixes that venerable art with Hip-Hop, Rock and electronica to create sounds very few people have heard before.

It’s a fairly positive review though we only score 3.5/5 stars…  That’s like a C-.  I once got a C- in the seventh grade on a grammar quiz and cried.  I guess you can’t win them all.

I think one of the most brutal reviews we ever got was from Chris Beyond at No-Fi Magazine. He called our first album “Dust and Sand”: “pretty cool for dinner background music” and “not something I’d listen to often, but your parents would appreciate it.”

OUCH!  Just not the thing you want to hear after you’ve poured countless hours and a decent part of your soul into an album.  The best part about it was I think he was actually trying to say something positive.  To be fair “Dust and Sand” was not really the kind of fare that No-Fi usually covers.  Which is our basic problem when presenting our music to a wider audience.  Being a unique band with a unique sound is both our greatest strength and greatest weakness.

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5 Responses to “Wildy’s World review”

  1. i feel your frustration Shoji!
    seems like half the time reviewers just try to describe the music, without saying anything about it: ‘let’s dust off all the obscure name-dropping and show everyone how hip we are.’
    the other half the time is spent on inane comments like: “not something I’d listen to often, but your parents would appreciate it.”
    wow. what a stunningly useless thing to say.
    a reviewer who writes that doesn’t deserve a readership.
    Good criticism is a dying art- not name dropping, description or adolescent slagging, but real ‘critical’ thought. Guess it’s just too hard and takes too much education.
    like you said, take some comfort in knowing that you are far, far ahead of the curve, my friend! they don’t know what to say!
    that, to me, is in itself a positive review!!

  2. Should I feel old since I listen to Dust and Sand and appreciate it? Although I don’t have any reviewing credentials, for what it’s worth, my ears have the musical attention span of a two-year-old but Dust and Sand and Ume in the Middle are two albums I can listen to from beginning to end and not hit the skip button. To be fair I should say an attention span of a 18 month-old cause my two-year-old can do the same thing and was captivated at the Cerritos concert :)

  3. shoji says:

    Hey guys… thanks for the supportive comments. I actually meant this post to be more funny than serious though re-reading makes me wonder how I ever thought this post would come off as humorous. hehe…

    Anyways I appreciate the supportive comments and I don’t really get that bent out of shape with the negative reviews. I do think it just comes with the territory if you’re trying to do something really different…

    My main audience I try to write for is Ayumi’s two year old daughter which might explain why she can sit through the entire album. While I was working on “Ume in the Middle” I would play unfinished tracks for Aya (back then she was only 11 months old) and she when she liked the track she would smile and do this amazing hopping “I’m-happy-but-can’t-quite-control-my-arms-yet-dance”. When she didn’t like the track she would just sit there get distracted and play with blocks. Every time I played certain tracks she would smile and do the happy dance and every time I played other tracks she would walk away and do something else. It was amazing. Her feedback was very valuable in mixing the album and determining which tracks would make it onto the album. So yeah… it might not seem like it but “Ume in the Middle” is a perfect album for that 11-24 month old age range.

  4. awesome!
    i gotta try that next time!!
    : )

  5. Brent says:

    Oh yeah, Aya actually heard the album, or at least the cutting room floor tracks way before mommy and daddy were allowed to listen – not that I’m jealous or anything…I guess it’s not the same effect when a full grown man does the same ‘happy-dance’ dance.

    And just for credentials, Ayumi’s comment is dead on about her musical attention span. She’s been known to wear out a full iPod battery skipping tracks before we hit the grapevine when driving up north from LA. :-)

    In all honesty, Ume in the Middle has been in heavy rotation for all three of us (Ayumi, Aya, and I) ever since we picked up our copy (I think at the most recent JACC concert)! The only question is, how do I keep that beautifully designed acetate cover in tact?

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