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Not All Who Sonder Are Lost

Kishi Bashi
Kishi Bashi

“Sonder” is defined by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows as the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. Experimental indie musician Kishi Bashi  — that’s the performance name for Kaoru Ishibashi — creates a soundscape as dynamic as the lives of people buzzing around us with his vast array of instruments and meshing of genres. 

Originally from Seattle, Ishibashi spent his childhood in Virginia and eventually moved to New York to attend, and gracefully flunk out of, the Cornell College of Engineering. In the years to follow, he attended the Berklee College of Music, studying violin and film scoring. 

His life transition translates into his music, bringing a contrast of sounds that flow together like a life story. Within the first few songs on his debut solo album, 151a (2012), Ishibashi takes his listeners on a cinematic journey navigated by violin, synthesizers, pop rhythms and his signature indie vocals. 

Ishibashi’s ability to create a scene through the language of music has led him to collaborate with big names like Regina Spektor and the band of Montreal. His music is featured in commercials by Sony and Microsoft, and Georgia-based coffeehouse chain Jittery Joe’s worked with Ishibashi to create his own coffee line, Royal Daark Blend.

Though sometimes random, his life mimics his music. One minute, Ishibashi’s sound is an elegantly strung-together violin piece, while the next it sounds like The Beatles meets Animal Collective.

Sonderlust (2016), his most recent album, is a musical conversation with strangers on the street: comfortable, curiously unsettling and nothing short of the wonder that is the human experience.

Kishi Bashi plays with Tall Tall Trees 8 pm Thursday, Nov. 16, at WOW Hall; $16 advance, $18 day of show.