Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tetuzi Akiyama/Takuji Kawai - Transition (ftarri)

What a nice surprise this is! While Akiyama is a known, if widely ranging in style and quality, item, Kawai is new to me and a wonderful find. Perhaps surprising to myself in that his style laps quite a good bit in a jazz direction, albeit a specific one. To these ears, he comes very much out of Paul Bley, a musician of whom I'm quite fond. The pieces, which I assume are improvisations, are ruminative, quiet and inward-bending. I suppose one of the surprising things is that, at heart, the music is very responsive, much more so than standard post-AMM improv and yet there's not a whiff of staleness about it. To the contrary, there's something quite fresh and alive going on. Akiyama is in a slightly more mainstream mode than his "Relator" persona and is extraordinarily sensitive here. Kawai prods and pokes, like a better version of Misha Mengelberg, but also offers a kind of elegiac tolling, allowing the notes to just suspend, that's absolutely entrancing. The entire disc is solidly excellent though if I had to pick a track as a favorite, it would be "Realization", single guitar notes hung in the cool air over low, rubbed strings and isolated, deep piano tones. Gorgeous. Don't let this one slip through.

available from erstdist

Mural - Live at the Rothko Chapel (Rothko Chapel Publications)

Jim Denley (wind instruments), Kim Myhr (guitars, zithers, percussion), Ingar Zach (gran cassa, percussion). Inevitably, what first strikes one is the image of the space in which this trio is performing, visual and aural. The sound itself is noticeably clear and vivid and one imagines it playing off the dark, gorgeous paintings. It also a spacious yet solid performance, with more than a tinge of AMM in the general character, mostly quiet and not very harsh. Myhr has some lovely moments on guitar and zither, somewhere out in classic Sugimoto and melodic Fages territory (sort of taking the Tilbury role), Denley reins in the potentially troublesome flute and sax both by nixing any jazz content and, like Myhr, often venturing down lyrically abstract pathways. Zach might be the real glue here, though, managing to contribute massive amounts of varying coloration without even coming close to being obtrusive. Good job, check it out.

Kim Myhr's page
Rothko Chapel Publications

Richard Garet - Decentering (Sourdine)

Another helping of complex, steady-state music from Garet, who does this quite well. Presumably sourced from field recordings among other things but processed, reprocessed and more into something very much other. As with most of the music in this area that I find enjoyable, you have to deal with both the surface uniformity and the underlying complexity simultaneously. So, at the beginning, for instance, you register the high, slightly rough pitch and then pick up the faint low tone as well as begin to hear what's making the high tone rough, all these small irregularities. Other layers are introduced or subtracted, generally adjacent in volume but varying in timbre, twining together, forming a variegated strand, though always a strand. The predominant feel is of wind, cold wind, blowing through interstices, picking up stray elements, including traces of voices, carrying them along for a bit, discarding them. Toward the end, the wind aspect recedes and a more claustrophobic sound emerges, or the wind is being funneled through a tighter set of tubes...Good work, worth hearing.


Edén Carrasco/Leonel Kaplan/Christof Kurzmann - Una Casa/Observatorio (Three Chairs Recordings)

Carrasco (alto sax), Kaplan (trumpet), Kurzmann (lloopp). How to describe when, to your ears, something just doesn't work from the get-go? When almost every decision made by the musicians involved makes you wince? Part of it may have to do with the way the music uses the lexicon of eai but inserts it into the structure of efi, an uneasy fit. Perhaps this was the intent (I often wonder about the frustrations musicians must feel in attempting to break out of whatever the current stylistic environment is dictating, especially when that environment is, really, pretty rich and interesting!). But here, all the whistled sax, breath-a-fied trumpet and, perhaps most egregiously, the software-generated loopiness (or llooppiness) simply fails to cohere for me. Everything seems pro forma. The second of the two pieces here ratchets things up a bit and its to the music's benefit; the more activity, the thicker the mix, I suppose, providing a certain amount of body missing otherwise and the periodic pulsing rhythms help as well.


available from erstdist

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