Kangaroo Note

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Soundness Review

by François Couture

The members of the trio Kangaroo Note don't play endless series of bouncing octaves, but their approach of free improvisation sure includes some gigantic leaps. Aso Takashi (electronics), Ando Kunihiro (bass [acoustic and electric]), and Masaya Kimura (saxophone and a breath-controlled synthesizer) live in northern Japan. They represent a community of musicians that work outside the Tokyo "onkyo" scene and thus away from the spotlights of the trendy avant-garde press. Their approach to free improvisation has closer ties to European, even Norwegian players. Aso's electronics have a nutty quality to them that places him somewhere between Matt Wand's playfulness and the fun-core esthetics of some members of the Mego crew (Peter "Pita" Rehberg, in particular). Kimura's tenor sax bears the stigmata of a free jazz education. Traces of Charles Gayle and Peter Brötzmann surface, although the Japanese never indulge in a frantic decibel chase. Ando's playing strongly recalls Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, not only because he shifts between double bass and bass guitar, but also on the count of his rock demeanor. Pasting these descriptions together, you get an unusual picture that encompasses acoustic chamber lushness and noisy electro-acoustic clashes. Some short moments on Soundness are embarrassing ("Electric Configuration Again" goes absolutely nowhere; you'd think it was taped during a soundcheck). The rest flies high and hits a few worthy peaks in "Fuss Around Saxophone" and "Addition."

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