Various Artists

Deluxe Improvisation Festival 2001: Day Two

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This album presents excerpts from the performances held during the second day of the Deluxe Improvisation Festival 2001. The track list consists of four solo improvisations surrounding the event's highlight: the 19-piece Portable Orchestra. An ad-hoc ensemble that brought together the best improvisers in Tokyo (including Tetuzi Akiyama, Taku Sugimoto, Utah Kawasaki, and Toshimaru Nakamura), it was fronted by Yoshihide Otomo, who devised the structured improvisation included here. The piece is highly reductionist, keeping musical gestures to a bare minimum. It is difficult to assess what truly happens, but it sounds like the leader kept only two or three musicians active at the same time. Although a certain tension builds up in the course of its 16 minutes, the piece remain somewhat informal and casual. The other artists featured on this second volume are two guitarists and two wildly original electronicians. Tetuzi Akiyama developed his guitar style together with Sugimoto. His short piece shows similar sensibilities. Kazuo Imai's style is closer to Derek Bailey in the first half of the piece, but his drone singing afterwards takes thing to a completely different level. Interspersed between the guitars and the orchestra are Atsuhiro Ito and Toshimaru Nakamura. The former performs on the optron, an electronic device that draws its sound source from fluorescent light. Harsh and granular, the resulting music puzzles. The latter delivers a strong improv on his no-input mixing board, blending feedback loops and glitches to create one of the most alien soundscapes Japan has produced in the past ten years. Another document for those interested in the so-called "onkyo" scene, this CD and its companion, Deluxe Improvisation Festival 2001: Day One, don't feel redundant and cost less than most other collections in that field.