Friday, March 21, 2014

Up Half-Known Roads: Solo Drumming Records, Installment 3; Land of the Rising Sun Edition

After having such a nice listening experience from Osamu Kitajama's Benzaiten, Disaster Amnesiac got to thinking about all of the great percussion music, world wide. After digging through my library's stacks for discs appropriate for the Up Half-Known Roads series, I settled on a few by Kitajama's fellow Nihon-jin, Keiji Haino and Shoji Hano. These two discs both go deep into their respective personal sound worlds and visions, and, much like Kitajama's great work, adeptly blend the aesthetic of their home island with sources from other parts of the world. Brew up some strong green tea and enjoy!

Keiji Haino-Tenshi No Gijinka-Tzadik, 1995; CD

Disaster Amnesiac could possibly posit that this CD is more of an Electro-Acoustic release than a straight Solo Percussion one, but, that said, Haino's focus sounds pretty clear percussion based throughout. The proceedings evince an air of Shinto/Gregorian fusion: resonant metals are struck and let to ring, while Keiji chants his very Medieval sounding vocalizing and poetry. His use of overdub, in order to blend these elements, is great, and it provides a rich, spooky sound environment for the listener to inhabit. Drums are slowly beat and scraped with chains, chimes are struck and let to wobble until they stop, metals are bowed; the whole affair has a very ritualized feel. Deeper into the disc, a slightly more melodic turn is taken, as de-tuned biwa and reeds are played, the reeds getting especially human vocal sounds as he recites his inner, darkened visions. Beautiful, spacious music for late night trancing or early morning comin' down. Percussive as in impact.

Shoji Hano-Drums-Heart Lord Discs; 2008

Percussive impact is very much the main focus of Shoji Hano's playing on Drums, wherein the listener is treating to five purely solo drumming excursions. Hano's incredible stick control techniques and righteously good tuning make for some great sounds. It's tough to overstate just how musical his playing is. He sounds as if he divides the trap set into discrete zones almost, moving from, say, the tom tom zone, to the cymbals zone, layering patterns atop one another from each. His drum tones ring out high pitched and clear, his cymbal tapping shimmers, and his feet make the high hat dance along with occasional accents of bursted sound. There is a very distinct call and response feel to his overall aesthetic, even when he switches to the brushes. Disaster Amnesiac has wondered whether Shoji is imagining the sounds of other instrumentalists going as he plays his solo music; there would definitely be space for them within the musical percussion matrices that he sets up. Drums differs from Tenshi in the fundamentally pointillist feel of its personal musical ritual action, as opposed to the the  wider sound spaces of latter. Still, there is plenty of mystery to contemplate therein.

In closing, Disaster Amnesiac would like to ask anyone currently in the know, as regards great Japanese drummers of the Free/Improvised music variety, who are they, and where can I find examples of their iki?

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