Masahiko Satoh / Soundbreakers

Amalgamation

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A highlight of the Japanese jazz avant-garde, Amalgamation was the latest in a series of experimental moves by pianist Masahiko Satoh, and a peak of the experimental Japanese jazz records that followed their love of Miles Davis' late-'60s experiments with producer Teo Macero. In the previous years, following his involvement with the infamous never-staged Japanese production of Hair, Satoh had his band jam along with reel-to-reel recordings composed for percussion prodigy Stomu Yamashta, and served on a session with guitar hero Kimio Mizutani. Amalgamation is comprised of two side-long tracks, each broken into smaller scenes, such as "All Quiet on the Western Front" and "Ancient Tales of Days to Come," even if it's a bit hard to tell if those titles actually correspond to musical movements. The A-side features bursts of highly sample-worthy organ funk (anchored by former Cannonball Adderley drummer Louis Hayes), blazing guitar passages courtesy of Mizutani, and volleys of literal machine gun fire (overlapping with the rhythm section), along with the Wehnne Strings Consort, small brass ensembles, and radio-recorded voices. On Amalgamation, Satoh himself experimented with three specially ordered miniMoogs as well as Roland ring modulators. If the first side might feel formulaic at times -- grooves alternating with sonic surprises -- the second side provides constant interludes, including flutes, organs, bells, and a singing female voice. While each side of the record is a joy to listen to, and never anything less than enthralling, there doesn't seem to be much compositional arc to the project, the scenes never amounting to a larger plot.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
15:44 Spotify
2
21:17 Spotify
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