Ajar is a fairly restrained live set from these three extraordinary members of the advance guard in guitar exploration. The overall tone is more similar to Sugimoto's quiet explorations on recordings such as Opposite for hat Noir. While one can hear snatches of "typical" Rowe-ian sounds like fluttering drones and the occasional interception of a stray radio broadcast, more often one hears relatively clear, resonant guitar notes, softly played and left to waft into the air. It's less as if the musicians have chosen to sublimate their individual identities and more as though they said, "Let's all visit Sugimoto's universe tonight." The resultant opening track is thus restful, gently meandering and contemplative, largely omitting Rowe's restless searching and interest in purposeful difficulty, as well as Yoshihide's infatuation with postmodernism and sheer noise. The second cut, "The Room," is a bit odder. Recorded in several distinct segments, it sounds as though each guitarist is taking a solo stab at the same target, i.e., producing a Sugimoto-like pool of notes, though it's very difficult to tell if this is the case. Whatever its underlying rationale, "The Room" achieves an interesting stasis, like isolated sumi drawings on a large expanse of paper. Ajar is an unusual document that sits somewhat apart from the previously recorded, already unusual work of these fine musicians. Highly recommended, though more for listeners with previous experience of these fellows than for newcomers.
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