MASAOKA, CHEN, GRÜSEL, NAGAI: Self-titled: CD

Listening to what is essentially improvised music recorded the first time the four performers got together, one’s opinion of such will probably fall into one of two categories: 1) these people are friggin’ geniuses, 2) these people are friggin’ kooks. While this reviewer can appreciate the thought process behind the latter, he finds himself leaning a bit more towards the former. It’s no small feat to sit down with three other people and create something interesting to listen to, let alone pull it wholly out of thin air, and keep it consistently interesting for well over an hour. Utilizing traditional Japanese instruments, voices, a cello, and “electronics” they create soundscapes that vacillate between “music” and full-on aural assaults. It’s often within the context of a single piece—quiet, contemplative koto and/or cello passages coupled with electronic slurps, blurps, and blurts, scraping strings, and slide into avalanche of noise. This is decidedly not something to plop on the ol’ hi-fi during yer next barbecue—though that’s exactly what I’m a-gonna do, being the sadistic bastard I am—but definitely worth the trouble if you’re in the mood to experience, rather than merely consume, some music that resides well off the beaten path.

 –jimmy (Resipiscent)