Makoto Kawabata / Mani Neumeier

Samurai Blues

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Starting with a crashing drum hit and a rambling but high-paced jam to lead off the title track, Samurai Blues finds two performers, both of whom love collaborations as much as their own work, out to do generally what one might expect when working together, and at reasonably high volume. Makoto Kawabata's love for Guru Guru makes perfect sense given all his other fascinations, while Mani Neumeier's playing, sometimes in the pocket and sometimes freaking out all over the drum kit, shows he still keeps on keeping on in his own vein after all these decades. The performance is not quite live unless there's an uncredited second guitarist; otherwise Kawabata splits his time between understated soloing and more aggressively metallic rhythm charges. After the opener, the remainder of the release splits between two long and two short tracks; while the latter are fun the lengthy numbers are where the two really get to shine. "Mushi" has Neumeier setting a rolling, almost jaunty pace while Kawabata plays a simple part as feedback hovers in the background -- but that's just a start, the performance easily shifting into a wah-wah-heavy cruise that's great fun to listen to, some full-on power feedback of the gods, and a final wind-down. "Spinning Contrasts" takes a slow build in speed approach, with plenty of high-pitched guitar scrabbling and bowing as the percussion first rolls along and then becomes a wave of seemingly everything on the kit being played at once, numerous times over, settling into various equally unsettled, compelling segments.

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