"Arashi" is a relentlessly furious album. It is also great music. Akira Sakata's latest effort, grouped here with Joan Berthling (bass) and Paul-Nilssen Love (drums), the album's four tracks pummel and goad the ears with growling horns and voices, a torrent of drums, and pulsating bass. Sakata is in top form here, featuring some of his finest playing in years. Neither acerbic nor sweet, he deftly blows through notes with explosive clarity, not slurred, launching into furious clusters of sonic waves of sound that recalls the new wave of sound years of the 60s and 70s.
In this collaboration with Berthling and Love, "Arashi" comes across as a defining moment in Sakata's career, one of technical brilliance and creative assurance. The title track is a throw down by Arashi, throwing out a tidal wave after tidal wave of notes, while Berthing and Love furiously supply a torrent of bass and percussion. "Ondo No Huna-Uta," is a terrific free vocal piece, Berthling and Love practically exploding in the background, Sakata improvising with gutteral vocals that stretch and bend over the drums, cackling maniacally. "Dora" starts off fast and only gets faster, Sakata's sax literally dancing on top of Love's pounding and rolling percussion, before giving way to Love, in a frantic yet satisfying conclusion. "Fukushima No Ima" concludes the album with a somber clarinet by Sakata, assisted by Berthling, as the two create a meditative and thoughtful duet, reflecting perhaps on the nuclear disaster, then Love comes in to stir the pot, Sakata then vocalizing, before they drift off to an ethereal conclusion, with the brushing of cymbals and bells. For those who have been looking for a solid free jazz effort, "Arashi" delivers the goods. Sakata, Berthling and Love play hard and furious, but assured, and the interplay between the three is at a high level. It's like a free jazz throwdown answer to Elvin Jones' classic "Putting It Together." It gets my highest recommendation.
Arashi was reviewed during an artist deep dive feature by Martin Schray in August as well.
Available from Instantjazz.