Sen Morimoto is an enigma. He’s been on record before saying that his music doesn’t obey genre tropes and, as such, it can be hard to pin down. Sure, there are jazz-adjacent moments, indie choruses, electronic freak-outs and much more in-between. But it would be a futile task to listen to the album as a whole and try to fit it neatly into a box. So we won’t even try! Except to say that he has a singular sound.
Certainly these songs don’t tend to hang around too long – most of them arrive around the three-minute mark but manage to explore an impressive, occasionally dizzying, sonic world. And this is something that Sen Morimoto seems to have arrived at accidentally-on-purpose, as he actively embraced unpredictability on this record – allowing himself to stumble across the unexpected.
The main tension on his third album ‘Diagnosis’ is that of an artist trying to be true to themselves in a capitalist world. In Sen Morimoto’s mind it seems that making money doing something he loves has weighed heavily in the past, but now he’s trusting himself and his intentions. And the result is that he’s made his most outwardly looking record yet – but not a preachy one, mercifully.
The album opens with the first single to be released from the set in ‘If The Answer Isn’t Love’, a plea for togetherness with an exciting guitar solo. ‘St. Peter Blind’ has echoes of Frank Ocean’s seminal album ‘channel orange’ and sets the scene nicely for the dizzying chaos of the title track ‘Diagnosis’, of which Morimoto goes from restrained to crazed with consummate ease. The track really represents the tension at the heart of Sen Morimoto, if not the album as a whole.
The album closes with ‘Forsythia’ – a sweet orchestral song on which Sen Morimoto flips between Japanese and English – and ‘Reality’, an ambitious track that has a prog flair to it. Overall, ‘Diagnosis’ is an enjoyable return from Sen Morimoto – just don’t try to pin it down.
Words: Nicolas Graves