Saturday, March 14, 2009
(Various) Relay: Archive 2007-2008 (Manual)
It's been a strong year thus far and here's yet another very fine release, a collection of ten improvisations from various permutations of the musicians involved with the Manual label and invited guests. Ryu Hankil seems to have shown very good judgment in culling these tracks from what I imagine to have been a substantial volume of work; almost every track is at least strong, often very compelling. The sole exception perhaps not very surprisingly, is a trio with Choi Joonying, Jin Sangtae and Mats Gustafsson. The latter is all too often intent on muscling his way through, something he's extremely adept at in other contexts but ill serves him here. It's not terrible, but when compared with, for example, the trio of Choi, Hong Bulki and Kai Fagaschinski, it's fairly clear which reed player has the deeper understanding of this area of music.
Most tracks are in this guest/residents format. Listeners familiar with the fine, fine work of the Manual, Balloon & Needle, etc. crew will have a good idea of the general territory covered here--rough-edged electronics of the open circuit kind, usually on the quiet side but with the odd explosion, etc., but there's more than ample variation to be heard. It's not "new" in that sense, just very accomplished. Other guests include Toshi Nakamura (a deliciously bumptious duo with Park Seungjun), Klaus Filip, dieb 13, Iida Katsuaki, Noid, and both Takus. Joe foster is also present in both a trio and as half of English with Bonnie Jones (an excellent cut).
Writing about it in detail is something of a fool's errand. I'll say that my favorite track may have been the trio of Choi Joonyang, dieb13 and Joe Foster if only for the fact (guess, I suppose) that dieb13 inserts a dose of viscosity into a textural area that tends toward the crackling and prickly; makes for an especially dense and piquant stew. (Though I think Filip does that a bit as well). The last piece brings together ten musicians and--of course since it's a Sugimoto composition
--is by far the quietest in the collection. More external sounds than musicianship here. I'm probably more of a fan of this aspect of Taku than many, but I found it quite successful.
A mandatory pick-up for those at all interested in this neck of the woods.
Available stateside via erstdist