Tomoko featuring Nikkos

Nikkos Records, 2003


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The first time I looked at this CD, I said to myself, "The rainstick as a lead instrument.. Right…"

But that is precisely what Japanese artist Tomoko and her husband, flutist/keyboardist Nikkos, try to do on Rainstick, a collection of new age pieces that try to capture the essence of nature through sparsely arranged music.

The only thing that will be captured is by the listener - and that's a good nap. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Rainstick proves not only that the rainstick is not a lead instrument, but that sometimes a minimalist approach to instrumentation is a poor choice.

Now, I have experience with the rainstick. I've played in church groups where it was used on occasion in hymns. I've even picked the thing up myself and made the pebbles inside fall, creating the sound of rain. It's an incredibly easy percussion instrument to play.

But that's all it is - a percussion instrument. And while I don't pretend to have a full grasp on the world music scene, I do know that hearing Tomoko's constant barrage of turning and shaking the rainstick made me want to claw my eyes out. An occasional turn is fine; 40 minutes of this has to be outlawed somewhere in the Geneva Convention.

There's a reason all these tracks run together with no interruption - they all sound exactly the same. At times, I found myself wondering if Tomoko and Nikkos were actually just performing spontaneously, and they later chose to break this album up into tracks.

Ironically, it's on the last track, "Full Story," when keyboards, bass and drums are introduced into the mix, and things actually start to show promise. Regrettably, I had to sit through about 36 minutes of mind-numbing music to get to one good track - and frankly, it's not worth the investment of time.

If Tomoko and Nikkos wanted to do an album filled with songs like "Full Story," I'd probably be willing to spend an hour listening to it and giving it a fair shake. (Whoops - bad choice of words for a review like this.) But Rainstick is the kind of disc that makes you wish not everyone had access to recording equipment. Until the time when I hear a good solo on the maracas, I'm not convinced that simple percussion instruments should move from the background.

Nice try, Tomoko. May your rainstick be infested with termites.

Rating: F

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nikkos Records, and is used for informational purposes only.