Metal Tastes Like Orange

Secret Recordings, Vol. 1

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Metal Tastes Like Orange was a loosely knit, freely improvising group with two constant members (electronics/percussionist Gunter Muller and alto saxophonist Masahiko Okura) and two musicians who may or may not have been present on a given track (guitarist Taku Sugimoto and Otomo Yoshihide). The music, generally quite beautiful, falls into the category of quiet improvisation with strong electronic overtones. Muller is a master of creating subtle and complex fields of sound, a rich bed from which all manner of music can be generated. Okura has the more difficult task: integrating his saxophone into a non-idiosyncratic environment where any jazz connotations might detract from the desired effect. Few saxophonists can pull this off regularly (John Butcher comes to mind), and Okura does retain traces of a sound that recalls Marion Brown, but overall he's of a piece with his collaborators. Taku Sugimoto's delicate, lonely tones are a perfect compliment in this sort of music, supplying a modicum of crystalline beauty in an otherwise grainy and potentially forbidding territory. The tracks featuring Yoshihide are extraordinarily delicate, almost to the point of not being there at all, as ultra-soft hums and wheezes waft through the ether. Only the brief duo, "Bind," explodes into a high-volume frenzy, and it's arguably the least persuasive track here. Overall, Secret Recording 1 is a superb example of the cross-fertilization between Europe and Japan in the quiet improv scene of the late '90s, and an excellent introduction to the genre.

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