Kishi Bashi’s Emigrant EP is a lush bluegrass-inspired album referencing the brutal history and harsh climate of the American West. Arranged and recorded over the last year, Emigrant serves as a time capsule of the 2020 condition as it meditates on the anxieties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the comforts of nature, the pains of resource-fueled conflicts, and the resiliency that emerges from struggle. In grappling with history and stepping into personal identity, Kishi Bashi’s Emigrant is steeped in the past while it looks to the future.
Over the last several years, the critically-acclaimed composer and adventurous multi-instrumentalist Kaoru Ishibashi, better known as Kishi Bashi, has traveled frequently to Montana and Wyoming to work on Omoiyari, an upcoming “song film” about Japanese internment during WWII. Kishi Bashi’s accompanying 2019 album of the same name was a career-defining concept record lauded by NPR for its “profound empathy” and The New York Times for its “hand played yet exquisitely polished” qualities. It has been an emotional and creatively potent experience for Kaoru to spend time in the American West, speaking with internment camp incarcerees and descendents. Considering his own bicultural identity as the child of Japanese immigrants has come to influence Kishi Bashi’s approach to songwriting.