Sigh's Mirai Kawashima Picks 7 Non-Metal Albums for Metalheads | Revolver

Sigh's Mirai Kawashima Picks 7 Non-Metal Albums for Metalheads

From Naked City to Beach Boys, black-metal bandleader reveals influences behind 2001's dark, trippy 'Imaginary Sonicscape'
sigh-mirai-1-courtesyband-web-crop.jpeg, Sigh
Courtesy of Sigh

Revolver has teamed with Sigh for an exclusive "neon green with white splatter" vinyl variant of their 2001 album Imaginary Sonicscape. It's limited to 200 — get yours before they're gone!

Twenty years ago, in July 2001, Japanese black-metal crew Sigh released Imaginary Sonicscape — an ambitious ten-song record on which the band launched their extreme metal into exciting experimental and psychedelic realms.

The trio — bandleader/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Mirai Kawashima, guitarist Shinichi Ishikawa and percussionist Satoshi Fujinami — weaved familiar heavy musical elements (aggressive riffs, Maiden-esque dual-guitar lines, vicious vocals) with myriad non-traditional sounds (Moog synths, dub reggae, giggling babies, Japanese folk, jazz fusion) to create a truly surreal and rich experience on their fifth full-length album.

"I have lots of colors on my musical palette," Kawashima told Metal Rules in 2007, when asked about Imaginary Sonicscape's avant-garde elements. "As far as Sigh goes, I never intend to make it musically varied or weird. I always choose the best way to express the feeling. Sometimes it could be heavy guitars while sometimes it could be a classical piano solo. And as a result, sometimes the song has lots of different elements. It's just a result, not a purpose."

On the eve of Imaginary Sonicscape's 20th anniversary, we asked Kawashima to share the non-metal albums he was listening to back then that inspired Sigh's eclectic expressions.

The Mothers of Invention - We're Only in It for the Money (1968)

Back then we were trying to make an album that is experimental and highly accessible at the same time, and this album was the role model for that. Also, Frank Zappa was a big inspiration to blend everything from rock to jazz, classical.

The Beach Boys - The Smile Sessions (2011)

Another example of being experimental and accessible at the same time. Smile had been a lost album for a long time, and this one finally came out in 2011. I was collecting a lot of bootlegs when we did Imaginary Sonicscape.

Naked City - Torture Garden (1990)

I always wanted to make an album like a horror movie, and John Zorn's cut-up/juxtaposition technique was a huge inspiration for that along with the first album by Mr. Bungle [1991's self-titled].

Alfred Schnittke - Concerto Grosso No.1 (1978)

My biggest musical background besides heavy metal is classical music, as I was taking classical piano lessons for more than 20 years. Schnittke a 20th century classical composer from Soviet Union, and some of his works can be compared to Naked City with lots of juxtaposition.

Primal Scream - Echo Dek (1997)

Back then magic mushrooms were legal in Japan and you were able to get them on the street very easily. I was tripping a lot to the albums like this one, Portishead's first album [Dummy] and Protection by Massive Attack. You can hear the influence from these artists on "Nietzschean Conspiracy."

Technova - Tantric Steps (1994)

Another trippy masterpiece. Technova is a project by David Harrow, who would remix some of our songs later. Recently I found out that he had done the Walls of Jericho intro for Helloween, [credited] as James Hardaway!

Chick Corea and Return to Forever - Return to Forever (1972)

I used a lot of vintage keyboards such as Minimoog, Fender Rhodes, et cetera. And its inspiration came from the keyboardists playing with Miles Davis such as Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. This album shows you the best example of how to play Fender Rhodes.