I’ve seen Kishi Bashi play in a number of settings, with a number of accompanists and arrangements, but his one constant companion/collaborator has been Mike Savino, who makes music under the handle Tall Tall Trees. Kishi Bashi and Savino seem a bit like brothers who were separated in their infancy, but found one another in adulthood, and now just kind of share a brain or something. Visually, they make quite an odd couple: Kishi Bashi is a lean, delicate Japanese gentleman who could probably convincingly play Neil Gaiman’s Morpheus, while Savino is a stocky, hirsute white guy who looks like he should be working on a lobster boat. Here they are on stage together:
But musically, they’re like twins: They both play these objectively uncool, not-guitar string instruments (Kishi Bashi plays the violin; Savino, a modified banjo he’s dubbed a “banjotron”), and they bring to those tools a combination of blazing technical virtuosity as well as an experimental sensibility that sometimes results in sounds that are utterly, unidentifiably alien. Both came to prominence as sidemen — Kishi Bashi with of Montreal and Regina Spektor; Savino with Kishi Bashi. The pair just concluded a tour of Europe; at the Brussels stop, their van was robbed. “The thief made off with all of my earnings from the tour, my computer, clothes, and passport,” Savino said afterward. “The whole band was hit pretty hard but the thief left two things in the van: my banjo and Kishi Bashi’s violin. Reminds me of an old joke…”
Now Tall Tall Trees are set to release a four-song EP called The Seasonal, which represents a continuation of Savino’s partnership with Kishi Bashi: The violinist contributes to three of the album’s four tracks, and co-produced the whole thing. Not surprisingly, the sound here has a lot in common with the sound of Kishi Bashi’s records — it’s kaleidoscopic, pointillistic, dreamy, lovely psychedelia. We’ve got one track from The Seasonal for you to spin today; it’s called “Picture Picture,” and it’s led by Savino’s vocals and banjotron, aided by Kishi Bashi on violin. Listen.