Kenichiro Nishihara - Elastic Afterwords


Given what has been happening in the world in the last two years since the release of Sincerely…, a new album from Kenichiro Nishihara in 2019 is more than welcome. Elastic Afterwords continues Nishihara’s legacy of dope beats, beautiful piano lines, jazz riffs and super-talented lyricists from all over the world. While working with long-time collaborators like Marter, Pismo, Tamala, Substantial and Michael Kaneko, this album also features our favorite superstar-in-waiting SIRUP and MADE IN HEPBURN, along with instrumental soloists DAISUKE (sax) from JABBERLOOP, Ohgi Akihiko (guitar) from Zainichi Funk, and more.

Ten years have passed since his debut, and Elastic Afterwords is not about reinventing the wheel, its more focused on the guests with less instrumentals. That being said, you know it’s a Kenichiro Nishihara track when you start with a hip-hop beat, bring in smooth rhymes and keys, then hit ‘em with a gorgeous flute or horn solo. He also continues to explore different moods – “Ecstasy” is probably the most suggestive song he’s ever made (and of course it has to have a sax in it), “Wonderland” drops out to reveal a disco beat, and he even employs some chiptune synths across the tracks.

What has changed is that there’s less spirituality. The content focuses more on personal relationships and struggles, starting from “Walk Out.” Love is more intense and complex than how it was represented on previous albums, and there are less samples/scratching to focus more on personal expression of emotions. Though all the songs are co-written with guests and may reflect their feelings, overall the album seems a bit more introspective, moving on from a failed relationship, praying for things to get better, seeking solace from lovers. As another contrast, though we had “Our Love” on Sincerely…, Elastic Afterwords closes with “Our Song” which is a call to arms, to stand up and be heard. Instead of looking up into the heavens, this time Nishihara is looking down at his shoes on the ground, trying hard to move forward in an uncertain world (with a little help from his friends). It’s just the thing for 2019.

Royce Leong