Meitei is an artist with a profound reverence for Japan's past, wanting to capture and catalogue tales rooted in fading tradition. Kofu is the final chapter in his expeditious trilogy, which started with the eerie ghost stories of Kwaidan in 2018 and continued with the more organic, alive-and-breathing Komachi in 2019. All three chapters share certain themes of curiosity and nostalgia, though some of the sounds and moods on Kofu represent a bit of a stylistic left turn. It feels like stumbling upon a box of sepia tone photos without context, imagining and constructing the lives of those pictured, and then setting those narratives to to J Dilla beats.
Starting with the poppiest and most accessible melodies, twin tracks Oiran I and Oiran II have the hidden subtitles of "Hana" and "Shiokaze,"meaning gorgeous and sea breeze, respectively. The songs crackle and bounce, defined by warped vocals samples. But referencing courtesans, and on other songs, entertainers and oft-underappreciated working-class women, Meitei confronts Japan's patriarchal past and present with more than just upbeat song constructions. Kofu is an album of stories, after all, and a number of tracks are named after specific people, documenting a variety of subjects and moods. Other compositions, however, offer meditative clearings. Urameshi-ya is gorgeous, and the final two tracks, Gen'ei and Suki, wind down Meitei's ambitious three-part project softly, fading away as all memories do, eventually. Listening to all three albums this week is highly recommended, but if nothing else, make sure to check out Kofu today.