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Friday, April 11, 2008

Jim O'Rourke, Akira Sakata, Yoshimio - Hagyou (BounDEE, 2008) ****

It's always of interest to hear what the interaction will give between musicians from different backgrounds. As often as not the result is bad, but once in a while the result can be excellent. And this is the case for this album. Former Sonic Youth member and producer Jim O'Rourke (guitar), Japanese saxophonist/marine biologist Akira Sakata and Japanese rock multi-instrumentalist YOSHIMIO from The Boredoms join forces on this wonderful new album. The three musicians manage to create a very strong and very coherent gentle and emotionally strong piece of music, with ambient and slow guitar or keyboard backgrounds over which Sakata's sax weaves beautiful, gut-wrenching, screeching and heartbreaking solos. And on several tracks Yoshimio's high-toned, wordless singing is absolutely stellar. The band is more focused on creating atmospheric soundscapes through improvisation and careful mixing than through compositional strength, and yet the overall effect is strong. Many have tried the combination of slow ambient background music over which a lonely sax plays a sad tune, often falling into the abyss of superficial sentimentality and artificial tear-jerking, not rising above the level of the soundtrack for a soft porn movie. At times you get that kind of effect here too, but the musicians avoid the deep dive into cheapness, because the music is clever and creative, it's fresh and even daring at times, passionate and extremely well produced. Highly recommended for those who like a mix of progrock with jazzy influences.

Listen to samples.

For one reason or the other, when you google the name of this album, you get truckloads of torrent sites where you can download it, and hardly any site with information on the CD.