Taku Sugimoto

In Tokyo

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Stangl and Sugimoto had recorded together on several occasions while Stangl and Kurzmann had previous collaborated on the beautiful album Schnee for Erstwhile. The listener who is familiar with those efforts won't be surprised by this trio performance as, in a sense, it combines the "sparse lushness" of Schnee's drones with the "lush sparseness" of much of Sugimoto's output. The first track find the two guitarists offering vibrant tones like pebbles tossed into a pool, spread generously out over time, coordinated with the natural and beguiling looseness that makes precision superfluous. Kurzmann, on his G3, provides quiet undertones, sometimes with the resonance of a distant organ, sometimes with the soft crackle of a fire or a sputtering electric connection. It's music that's unhurried in its consideration, a soundtrack to sunlight passing over a stream. The second cut has a rather darker character, Sugimoto scrabbling at the guitar strings, Stangl worrying his lower register, and Kurzmann conjuring up industrial drones that seep into the music like oil. It's equally impressive, a flip side to the more bucolic opener, illustrating one small portion of the range that inspired free improvisers like these three musicians are capable of traversing. In Tokyo isn't wildly different from the many discs released around this period by these performers, but its subtleties and fullness of sound rank it as one of the best. Recommended.