Brett Larner

Deluxe Nakamura

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Deluxe Nakamura culls three live improvisations from two concerts given in Tokyo in May and July 2001. Both artists have undergone radical changes in their music to embrace the "onkyo" sound. Canadian Brett Larner came to Japan to learn and extend the tradition of the koto. Taku Sugimoto switched from noise rock to a type of free improv so Spartan and quiet many think he will ultimately reach a point where he won't play at all (said as respectfully as possible, since his artistic quest ranked as one of the most fascinating at the turn of the millennium). Therefore, the three pieces rely on the sculpting of silence rather than sculpting of sound. Gestures are minimal, the tension often hard to sustain. "Nakamura Wonderland 2" features Larner and Sugimoto on acoustic guitars, trading one-note solos and extremely quiet noisemaking textures (string scraping and such). The ambulance rolling down the street at one point is the loudest thing you'll hear throughout the album. On the 30-minute "Nakamura Wonderland 1," the musicians play small objects plus some koto in the case of Larner. They build something best described as "fragile beauty," because it remains beautiful only if the listener gives it his/her full attention, painfully stretching his or her ears forward in anticipation for the next tiny sound to arrive. The slightest distraction can bring down this house of cards. "Deluxe," from Larner's last Tokyo concert before moving to the United States, sees the performers back on their main instruments. The CD is hand-packaged following a design similar to the releases on Larner's own label, ASE. A scan cannot do justice to the five interlocking pieces of cardboard that make up the cover. This is a beautiful piece of art for the most adventurous listeners only.

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