Music Reviews



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Artist: Kioku
Title: Both Far and Near
Format: CD
Label: quiet design (@)
Distributor: Alas Seis Music Direct
Rated: *****

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I listen to these tribal Taiko & percussions, live laptop experimentation and free-jazz saxophone improvisations and I wonder: how could Tzadik have missed a NYC-based hassidic-japanese avantgarde sax-featuring trio? That's just unexplainable to me. They seem to be right up Zorn's alley! And yet Austin-based label Quiet Design swiftly snatched the band and added it to their interesting and growing roster of original artists.

"Both Far and Near" features six pieces (including a cover of John Coltrane's "The Drum Thing" and Keith Jarret's "Spirits 16") made of a bed of throbbing percussive beats and sounds and electronic accompaniments that morph from drones to bubbles and from being soothing ethereal layers to creatively becoming part of the percussive textures (like in "Yatai Bayashi"). Amidst the ritualistic and trance-inducing background is the wild and deranged saxophone (mostly alto and soprano I believe), which, just like the laptop, plays its role of antagonist and enabler, playing along or whaling atop.

Kioku (japanese for "memory") truly seem to be an extension of that unique NYC downtown scene mostly made of the intersection of Jewish rule-bending instrumentalists and nipponic rule-breaking sound manipulators, but the fact that Kioku adds all these ethnic percussions makes them stand out within that very crowd.

Even though Tonic doesn't exist anymore (probably courtesy of the neighboring Blue Condo), Kioku still find some venues to perform in and you can find out about that on their myspace.com/kiokugroup


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