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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kaze - Tornado (Circum, 2013) ****½

By Stef 

In 2011, this quartet with Satoko Fujii on piano, Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, Christian Pruvost on trumpet and Peter Orins on drums, got lots of kudos for "Rafale", on this blog, and elsewhere, and rightly so. 

Now, two years later they are back with the sequel, and it is equally astonishing. The first track already sheds some light on their approach. Two trumpets play a dissonant phrase in unison, interspersed by one of Tamura's horrifying voiceless sounds, then they increaese the speed and when piano and drums join, total chaos arises, with crazy angry dialogues between all four instruments, like fishwives arguing against each other, full of indignation and contempt, then Orins calls them somehow to order with some powerbeats, shifting the tone into a perfect calm ... but only for a moment ... then back to chaos, with Fujii's piano going totally berserk fully supported by the blaring trumpets and hammering drums, then the piano brings some pattern into the proceedings, phrases which gradually and throughout the madness get picked up by the trumpets and drums, ending in abrupt stop. In short : mastery of changes, mastery in language, mastery in execution. 

The second track is more accessible, with a strange odd-metered piano phrase underpinning the beautiful intertwinging phrases of the trumpets, fusing into perfect calm and esthetic refinement. 

The title track starts with an intense interplay between drums and piano, full of drama and foreboding, accentuated by Tamura's hurricane-like blowing, and when Fujii starts playing repetitive phrases suddenly both trumpets echo the magnificent theme in alternating phrases while at the same time bringing the composition to an unexpected halt and quiet,with only the slow extended voices of trumpets and piano growling and plucking quietly, almost animal-like at times, full of restrained intensity and anticipated calamity, and when you expect the main theme to appear again, instead you get a sweet and harmonic interplay between all four instruments, until Fujii starts hammering her keyboard and the magnificent theme does erupt like an explosion of force and jubilant power. 

There are two more tracks which I leave up to the readers to further explore. This just to illustrate what it sounds like, if possible at all : strong compositions with lots of changes of plot and character and suspense, as Eyal Hareuveni writes in the liner notes : like "stories", the listener is taken along for an exploration of a non-linear and unpredictable journey, full of surprises, moments of sweetness and moments of horror, and often at roller-coaster speed. This only works well because the four musicians indeed have incredible skills at interplay and incredible discipline to shift out of composed moments into improvised invention and back, often without any obvious clue. 


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