REVIEW: The Start Of Something, Mountains by Kazuki James


Kazuki James is a writer, producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Manchester. After years working and touring as a guitarist as well as live sound engineer, he also writes and self-produces his own music in his studio. The music is instrumental, combining several genres to create a sophisticated overall sound that is difficult to pigeonhole, so I won’t try, but incorporates elements of classical, electronica and rock to create a unique fusion.

The Start Of Something begins with a haunting piano motif in a minor key, drenched in luscious reverb, setting an intriguing mood immediately. The sense of tension is maintained as a synth and simple hi hat pattern enter, then builds further with a pulsing bass playing the same one note. This leads to the emergence of a full beat, a steady rock groove with a crisp, punchy drum sound.

The piano motif then returns along with some atmospheric synth pads that nicely fill out the sonic spectrum, and the chord progression allows the bassline to develop more, the fluid bass playing bringing to mind Jah Wobble. Around the two minute mark the tension is heightened once more by offbeat tom fills and some quirky electronic sounds.

There is a great sense of momentum by this point and it culminates in a great burst of rich low-end electric guitar chords and pounding crash cymbals. This is augmented by a high end synth riff that gives the sound a prog rock feel which continues till the return to the first section. The chord progression now ascends with a rising bassline before the heavy chords section returns once more.

The beat then changes from half-time to full-time which is a highly effective way of reaching a climactic point, aided by a chiming lead guitar melody. This all leads to an epic ‘blow out’ finish as the music slows down gradually amidst a wash of cymbals and synth sounds. This is an excellent instrumental with an intelligent structure. It might be interesting to let a singer come up with a topline vocal melody, as it could potentially make a great song too.

The second track Mountains is a different beast altogether. Whereas The Start Of Something melded different styles, this piece, also instrumental, is more easily classified as ambient or electronica. It begins with a minute of ominous, brooding low synths and atmospheric noises that combine to create a rather saturnine, evocative soundscape that grips the listener.

Again, as with the first track, a sense of tension is cleverly maintained by the gradual introduction of new elements. Around ninety seconds in, a slow, pulsing groove enters with certain elements drenched in delay, contributing to the epic feel. With a low synth playing a simple but effective melody and a static atmospheric pad holding one chord, the music has an almost mesmeric quality to it.

Around two minutes thirty another synth melody is introduced, this time in the upper register and is effective dynamically after the gradually morphing and sparse melodies that preceded it. This continues till near the end of the track before it fades out in a sea of atmospherics, much as it began. The more understated nature of this piece acts as a nice counterpoint to the more dynamic, upbeat style of The Start Of Something.

Overall, these are two very well executed and professionally produced instrumentals. Both the playing and programming are also of a high standard and the arrangements show imagination and good understanding of musical structure. While they stand alone perfectly well as simply pieces for listening, both tracks would be suitable as background music for film or television, even as a soundtrack for a computer game, another potential avenue. I look forward to hearing more of his work in the future.



Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.2 out of 10



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