Taking a break from Korea today, we’re going to skip over to Japan and visit a piece of music that isn’t exactly new and hip on the radio right now. Still, it’s one of my very favorites.
In 1993, a band known as X Japan released a song called “Art of Life”. The song was sung entirely in English and clocked in at an impressive 29-minute symphonic metal monster. Outside of anime music, it was one of the first things I ever listened to from Japan. The song as a whole is wonderful, but what really does it for me is Yoshiki’s 10-minute piano solo performed in the middle of the song. To this day I firmly believe it is one of the most extraordinary compositions written for modern music.
The video below is a cut of the solo only, and not the entire song. Yoshiki gets a bit dramatic in this performance from 2008, but keep in mind this is a very dramatic piece. And despite the intensity and deranged nature of portions of this solo, keep listening. Behind it all is the same simple melody that never falters, never waivers. (In this case there is a recording of Yoshiki playing the melody in the background while he plays the solo on top of it. This isn’t something that can be played by a single person all at once.)