Masashi Harada

Obliteration at the End of Multiplication

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This session was recorded in March 1998 and came out four years later, while in the meantime Masashi Harada recorded and released other material. This usually indicates a poor session extracted from the vaults on the strength of an artist's rising profile. The awareness of Harada's music in free improv circles did pick up slightly in the intervening years (even more in the case of Mat Maneri), but what's wrong with Obliteration at the End of Multiplication and why it was kept under wraps for so long still remain a mystery. Harada had not recorded with violinist Maneri since Joe Maneri's 1989 CD, Kalavinka. Guitarist Philip Tomasic is one of his regular music partners since 1995. Although both musicians show interesting interplay with the drummer, it is their dialogue that startles. All of a sudden, it seems Maneri's languid microtonal approach to the electric baritone violin was born to find the perfect mate in Tomasic's slide guitar. The two definitely share something, a common taste for uncertain, awkward emotions, understated microtonal melodic ideas, and sweet and sour improvisation. Harada fits in well, pointing directions and complementing developments, but the ears keep coming back to the fascinating playing of the other two. He sings in a few pieces, a winning decision half of the time only. In "Sonic Freeze," his wails cut through as if bringing a light that one felt somehow inevitable yet is thrilled to see. On the other hand, its appearance only manages to sound superfluous in "Excited Equilibrium." Tracks are kept short and sound like edits of longer takes. Maybe that's why it took so long for this album to materialize, but no matter the quality of the original session, what Harada kept is gold.

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