Any serious follower of Koji Asano's work is used to expecting anything from one of his albums. But with this suite for church organ and recorders, the Japanese composer managed once again to circumvent expectations and take listeners by surprise. Asano had touched on acoustic chamber music before (see Flow-Augment and Spherical Moss Factory), but both organ and wooden flute make their first appearance in his catalog with this piece. The suite in ten parts, titled "The Alien Power Plant," was recorded over three days in a church in Amsterdam with Isao Otake (organ) and Ayumi Matsuda (recorders). It covers a wide range of styles, although no clear influences pop up. The choice of instruments inevitably brings to mind medieval madrigals and the sacred music of Bach, but thinking of both of them at the same time is an unusual experience by itself. And if the sonorities can evoke music of centuries past, the writing itself remains resolutely modern, hinting at Messiaen, Boulez, even Ludoslawski. Each part develops its own mood and motifs, yet the whole thing comes full circle in the orgiastic finale. Around the 30th minute of this hour-long work, the flutist gets a solo spot. Her long, sparse notes gradually mutate into the most intriguing song, half-bird serenade and half-human litany, accompanied by the sound of running water. This beautiful passage is marred by the entry of the organ, mimicking a bird call-and-response game. The cliché two-note phrases of the organ cannot match the intensity and fascination exerted by the wooden flute. Despite that -- and a couple of overlong, busy passages near the beginning and end of the work -- the piece (and album) provides a satisfying, unusual listen and proves once more that there is more to Asano than what meets the eye.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture