The most prominent of the members of this trio, Taku Sugimoto, had been known for his ultra-quiet, minimalist guitar improvisations that retained a crystalline melodic quality rarely found in the free improv genre. His Hat Noir album, Opposite, was almost Satie-like in its delicacy with single, clear tones rung quietly out to shimmer in audio space. In 2001, Sugimoto began to introduce a different shading into his performances and recordings. Whereas before he had placed relatively "traditional" guitar sounds in unique and spare surroundings, he began to use the entire body of the guitar more and more as a resonating object while retaining the sparseness of space. Using small pieces of metal, Styrofoam, plastic balls, he gently taps and scrapes the guitar (strings, neck, body), coaxing tiny sounds to strategically place in the ongoing improvisation. Here he is joined by trumpeter Masafumi Ezaki, a player very much in line with the Axel Dörner/Greg Kelley approach to the instrument (i.e., it rarely sounds trumpet-like), and Taku Unami on computer. Unami also reins in the vast potential of his "instrument," producing an erratic stream of clicks and scratches. The single track is a study in spatial improv, the volume remaining low throughout and the musicians just barely filling the space, leaving great amounts of white canvas. Toward the end of the piece, Sugimoto throws in some brief, recognizable, even blues-related, pluckings almost as an aside, but the greater part of the album is austere and difficult. It may require a certain mood on the part of the listener, not to mention an interruption-free listening situation, but Trio at Offsite will definitely reward the hardcore fan of this most rarefied corner of the free improv world.
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