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Larry L. Looney RSS Feed (Austin, Texas USA)

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You're Home Now
You're Home Now

5.0 out of 5 stars More quality songcraft from a great writer, December 13, 2014
This review is from: You're Home Now (Audio CD)
I’ll say up front that I’ve known Richard Berman for many years, and loved his work from the first time I heard him. His songs are honest and real and come from the heart, painting lyrical pictures of characters that become flesh and blood in the mind of the listener – whether they’re based on ‘real people’ (individuals or composites), characters from stories, or have sprung straight from Richard’s imagination. Listening to these songs feels like renewing a conversation with an old friend – I’m not sure there’s any higher praise than that, and I give it freely.

The souls that populate Richard’s songs deal with the same emotions, boons and pitfalls as all of us. Love, loss, joy, sadness, hard times, grief and hope can all be found here. There are highs and lows to be found in the human spirit – both coming and going. We deal with them all, and if we set our heart and mind to it, we move on through the lows and bask in the highs. It’s the points of the journey that lie in between the two extremes that exist in the shadows – and Richard’s songs have a way of leading the listener into contemplation that help pass the time and the miles in a way that, if we allow ourselves to be more open to the world in which we live, help us bear the sorrows long enough to find the joys.

One of Richard’s most moving songs, ‘Holding hands’ (from the album of the same name) finds resolution in the title track of this new release. It concerns two women, friends of Richard, walking through a Wal-Mart in Alamogordo, New Mexico, holding hands – the reactions from those watching them were sadly predictable, and Richard’s song made note of this and expressed a deep hope that tolerance would grow, and that people would come to accept love in all its forms for the gift that it is. Their story is continued in ‘You’re home now’, sung here beautifully by Jamie Anderson, a friend of the two women, wonderfully depicting the longed-for acceptance they sought.

In ‘The token of Scotty’s affection’, Richard revisits the game of Monopoly in a way that is wistful but ultimately gently humorous – things change but not necessarily for the worse. It’s a theme that runs through his work like a gold thread in a tapestry, skillfully woven into the lyrics, sometimes so subtly that we don’t recognize it until we’re really listened – and that’s one of the signs of a great writer.

I’ve heard several of these other songs from Richard in person – ‘Quoddy Point’ (co-written with the fine songwriter Buddy Mondlock), ‘A father and a daughter’, ‘Marianna’, as well as at least a couple of parts of the ‘Miss Hattie’ trilogy. Like all of Richard’s work, these songs are personal and universal at the same time – he draws them from within, and from life experiences, but presents them in such a way that they are almost instantly recognizable as a part of us. There’s no pretense or ego driving this music – just honest feelings, heartfelt words and beautiful, memorable melodies.

The production on the cd, by Max Cohen (who also worked with Richard on his ‘Now and then’ album), is just about as perfect as it could be. The musicians who appear here are well-seasoned, sensitive and supportive, and the arrangements never get in the way of the songs, but compliment and frame them, just as they should. This is, quite simply, a fine album – it fits nicely with the rest of Richard’s catalogue, and by all rights should find a comfortable and rewarding home in many collections.

Highly recommended.


The Austin Steamers
The Austin Steamers

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb mix of old-time and bluegrass music, December 1, 2013
This review is from: The Austin Steamers (MP3 Music)
A few months ago, my lady and I dropped by one of our favorite local eateries for some dinner. This place hosts live music regularly, but without calling them ahead of time, one never knows for sure who’s going to be playing on a particular night. We were pleasantly surprised when the band began to play – sometimes bluegrass, sometimes more of an old-time or string band style. As they continued, our attention was drawn more and more to them – the musicianship was excellent, and the mix of material was great, and it was all rolled up with a gentle sense of humor and the obvious fact that the band was having a blast.

It was The Austin Steamers – we had never heard of them before that night. Speaking with Sean Tracey during their break, I discovered that they had been doing a monthly gig there for some time – we just never happened to be there when they were playing. Sean told me this was their last night at Waterloo for a while – they were about to head for Alaska for an extended stay. After enjoying their sound so much, we were wishing we had discovered them much sooner.

The music on this, their only CD release, is a wonderful program of original material and carefully chosen songs by other writers they admire. ‘Old black crow’ and ‘Path of least resistance’, both Sean Tracey originals, are standouts, as are Joe Sundell’s ‘Dollar bill’ and Daniel Zeh’s ‘Hangdog’. Tracey’s ‘The only thing wrong’ is laced with self-deprecating humor without being trite or maudlin even for a moment. Among the covers, I’m especially fond of ‘Last letter home’, an Amazing Rhythm Aces song I’ve loved for years. Their version of ‘Freight train blues’ brings new life to an old standard. All four member sing, alternating lead and harmony vocals from song to song. Sean Tracey seemed to be the spokesman, at least on this night, but everyone shone on every tune, all having contributions to add, both instrumentally and vocally.

The Steamers are back in Austin, returned from Alaska – we’re really looking forward to going to hear them play again. Check out their website for more info, including upcoming performances. Whether or not you can make it to hear them perform live, by all means pick up this CD or the download. This is wonderful music, full of life and smiles and energy.


Two Guys Two Guitars
Two Guys Two Guitars
4 used & new from $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Truth in advertising, and a great CD..., October 10, 2013
This review is from: Two Guys Two Guitars (Audio CD)
Before anyone writes this off as `just another album from Austin', they should give it a listen. True, the Austin scene produces an incredible number of releases each year - but this one is something special. Danny Britt and Marvin Dykhuis are exceptionally talented, veteran musicians and good friends, and the camaraderie generated by comfortable familiarity and the deep wells of talent from which they both draw are elements that are easily heard...and seen, if you ever have the good fortune to hear them perform in a live setting, as we did last Sunday. That show was just the two of them, completely acoustic, in the living room setting of a house concert - they also do shows with a full band.

The songs on this disc are mostly originals, penned by Danny or Marvin, sometimes with co-writers - the one cover is a great one, `High hill', written by Champ Hood, and a widely-loved favorite from the repertoire of Austin's own Uncle Walt's Band. The songs deal with love found and lost, life on the road, friendship and loneliness and more - sometimes delivered in a straightforward manner, at other times (such as in Danny's `My aim's gettin' better all the time') with a healthy dose of humor. The album is a great example of truth in advertising - the title says it all: `Two guys, two guitars'. The production is clear and the arrangements are unadorned, allowing the quality and warmth of this music to shine through in a way that is not simply entertaining, but refreshing. Their guitar lines intertwine effortlessly and support each other with no egos getting in the way - the vocals are relaxed and smooth, and the harmonies are exquisite.

It's very obvious that these two are having a blast making this music. It's equally enjoyable for the listener, and has to be heard to be appreciated. Listen to the samples for an idea of how great this duo sounds...and by all means, see them live if you get the chance. You won't be disappointed.


Tant Que Les Heures Passent
Tant Que Les Heures Passent
Price: $15.62
21 used & new from $4.00

5.0 out of 5 stars stunningly effective sound-sculpting, September 4, 2013
First of all, I know this is long for an Amazon review - if you don't think you want to spend the time, then don't. I also hope you'll bear with me while I approach this from what might seem an odd angle - it's an unusual work, something that might well sound like `noise' to many listeners, but which, for me at least, is a source of wonderment and beauty. This is amazing music, created / assembled in an unconventional manner - it merits a similarly unconventional approach in order to absorb its many facets, and to understand a little of how and why it works the way it does.

Filmmaker Raúl Ruiz has written a great deal on what he calls `poetic cinema', expounding his ideas and theories concerning the effects cinema has on the viewer in his book POETICS OF CINEMA 2. He speaks of the idea of a `film within a film' - in some cases, a `film within a film within a film', with elements from one interacting with those of another. This concept can be extended to infinity, whereby multiple levels of `action' can occur side-by-side, layered, or simultaneously. He goes on to explain how such layers can be absorbed by the viewer, sometimes on a subconscious level, to be re-assembled by the mind either as the film progresses or in the state of `post-understanding' described by the great Andrei Tarkovsky in his masterpiece SCULPTING IN TIME. Ruiz also utilizes the example of multiple jigsaw puzzles, all of which have their pieces cut in the same pattern, but which originally display different images. If all of these puzzles are disassembled simultaneously, with the resulting pieces mixed at random, it's possible to reconnect them using the shapes alone, which will of course result in seemingly jumbled images - but viewing these scrambled images repeatedly, one after the other, can result in the mind piecing the pictures back together as they were originally, much in the same way that the mind can recognize words in which the letters are disarranged.

Ruiz writes of a process he calls `distracted comprehension' - he describes a physicist, a brilliant theoretician, who finds that he can better understand a new idea being postulated for him by a colleague if he doesn't allow himself to become absorbed in the process of listening attentively to the theory's explanation. His comprehension is more thorough, and more readily attained, if he allows himself to be slightly distracted during the exposition, with his mind re-assembling the critical points of the idea, very like the jigsaw puzzle or the `film within a film within a film' mentioned in the previous paragraph. Human memory works in much the same way, reassembling bits of information which are then processed to appear `whole' to our consciousness. One of the truest representations I've ever seen in a film of human memory is in I COULD READ THE SKY (Ireland / England, 1999, directed by Nicola Bruce) - there are layers of images displayed on the screen, with the audio being presented in the same manner, to a wonderfully realistic effect.

But what does all of this have to do with this music...? I'll try to draw some connections...

Bérangère Maximin's music works similarly. She utilizes pre-recorded tapes of found / environmental sounds, musical instruments, percussion (both standard sources and tapes of assembled rhythmic cycles), and voices to create an atmosphere of complete submersion for the listener. She brings all of these elements together in an astonishing way, wielding fragments of sound as tools and instruments, assembling them not in a random fashion, but thoughtfully and creatively, as a composer for a symphony orchestra might draw upon the various instruments to create mood, to express ideas and concepts, to construct a sense of space in which the audience is drawn into the sound-sculpted world she is building. Sounds appear, vanish and re-surface - some recognizable, others not. In the end, it's not really necessary to attempt to determine the source of everything falling onto the ear. Her work is like that `film within a film within a film' described by Ruiz, or the experience that must be understood after experiencing it, as Tarkovsky spoke of his film ZERKALO (MIRROR) (Russia, 1975) - the great Russian director, despondent over film critics savaging what was his most personal creation, found his work validated by viewers who wrote to him explaining how deeply the film affected them, many of them coming to understand it more fully some time after they had seen it.

Bérangère draws from her sound-palette as a visual artist might, coloring the audio presentation as if she were working on an abstract canvas - works of modern visual art might seem to be chaotic, but often inspire deep reactions in the viewer, much as I believe seemingly `abstract' music can touch a listener on the deepest level. There are other ways to communicate ideas and thoughts besides directness - the shortest distance between two points (in the case, the creator of the work and the person experiencing it) might be a straight line in geometry, but in art, be it musical, visual, literary, or otherwise, the most effective and rewarding journey is often a circuitous or oblique one. An object viewed from one angle takes on a completely different shape as we move around it - the same principle can be applied to music, or `audio art', to literature (there are works which the author intends be read in random order, for example) and of course to cinema.

This music must be experienced in order to comprehend it, to feel it - I can't recommend it highly enough. This is her first official release. Two others have subsequently been issued: NO ONE IS AN ISLAND (2010) and INFINITESIMAL (2013). All are excellent.


These Arms
These Arms
Price: $17.94
13 used & new from $1.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Great songs, written and performed from the heart..., August 5, 2012
This review is from: These Arms (Audio CD)
The songs on THESE ARMS contain a number of influences - folk, country, blues, Cajun (reflecting Mark's heritage). One of the wonderful things about this talented duo is how seamlessly they can blend these, sometimes within an individual song, into a viable whole that is simply great music that not only touches the soul of listeners, but brings nourishment to their minds as well...not to mention inducing them to a good bit of foot-tapping in the process...and the urge to dance.

Seven out of the eleven tunes on this album are Mark Viator originals, and they clearly illustrate what a fine writer he is. He's also a very talented guitarist - almost all of the guitar work on the recording is Mark's. Whether he's fingerpicking or flatpicking, or playing slide, it's always masterful and appropriate, and never showy for the sake of it - it's all about the music and what supports it best and conveys the mood. When Mark shifts from accompanying lyrics to adding a spot of lead, the seamlessness is wonderful to behold. If you're fortunate enough to see them perform live (which we do every chance we get), you'll understand this even more. The songs here that were written by others (Thad Beckman, Robert Earl Keen, Kate Wolf and Hank Williams) are as well-chosen as the originals are well-written, and suit Mark and Susan to a T.

Mark's Cajun heritage is never far from the surface. `Queen of the bayou' is a heartfelt tribute to his grandmother, a tasty stew of memories and love. `Ain't goin back' is an honest look at the life of a proud Louisiana working man, a vivid picture of resilience and devotion to family. `Dharma bums', as one might gather from the title, was inspired by Jack Kerouac's novel, and wonders eloquently if the idealism the book inspired in many of us when we read it the first time can be carried and kept alive as our lives move along. Susan's voice carries Mark's original `These arms' to sweet heights - it's a beautiful love song, extremely moving, and one you'll find yourself humming it before you realize it. Her renditions of Kate Wolf songs (`Across the Great Divide' appears here), as well as those of country legends such as Hank Williams (`I'm so lonesome I could cry' gets a beautiful reading on this album) and Patsy Cline (if you're lucky enough to see them perform, ask for `Walkin after midnight'), are all nothing short of wonderful, and Robert Earl Keen's `I would change my life' illustrates that she can give new life to more contemporary songs. She makes everything she sings her own, reaching down into her artist's soul to color them with shades from her own palette. When the two of them blend their voices, the harmonies are perfect and the chemistry is intimate - you can get a sense of it from just listening, but again, seeing them perform in a live setting makes it abundantly clear that they love what they're doing.

Many of Austin's finest musicians lend their talents to this recording. It never feels over-crowded, rather like a conversation among good friends, where everyone has something to contribute but no one attempts to dominate. Every track flows easily along, without production getting in the way of the material. As I said earlier, this is simply great music - well-written, performed with heart and talent, and a complete joy to experience. Pass it up at your peril. I don't think I'm allowed to insert a link to their website here, but if you do a search for them, you'll find it - there are samples available there, and you'll hear what I mean. If you like what you hear - and if you enjoy great music, I feel sure you will - check out Mark's earlier solo album BAYOU TÊCHE, filled with more finely-crafted original songs (one co-written by another great Austin-based songwriter, Slaid Cleaves), and his solo acoustic guitar offering WIRE & WOOD, showcasing his instrumental talents. They're both excellent.


My Love Will Keep
My Love Will Keep
Price: $13.99
30 used & new from $4.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a weak track on it...!, May 24, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: My Love Will Keep (Audio CD)
I've been listening to Jonathan Edwards since his first, self-titled album was issued back in the early 1970s. His music has been of consistent quality, a careful mix of his own finely-crafted originals and hand-picked songs by other writers, always delivered with heart, energy and honesty. This album, just released in 2011, is no exception. There's absolutely not a single weak track among the dozen selections.

Five of the songs were written by Jonathan -- his friend Henry Gross had a hand in a couple of others, there's one by the great Jesse Winchester (FREEWHEELER, from Jesse's GENTLEMAN OF LEISURE album), the beautiful THIS ISLAND EARTH, by Paul Cooper, which Jonathan sings as if it comes from the depths of his own soul. As a matter of fact, I think that's one of his strengths -- every song he performs sounds as if it's his own. SHE LOVES YOU, the John Lennon / Paul McCartney classic from the Beatles' early days, in a lovely, eloquent, unhurried arrangement by Jonathan's old friend and bandmate Eric Lilljequist from the band Orphan, takes on an entire new personality here -- the lyrical beauty of the song stands out as never before.

Jonathan revisits one of his own older tunes, HOW LONG (which appears on ROCKIN' CHAIR as well as BLUE RIDGE, his album with the bluegrass band The Seldom Scene), with a newly-penned verse that draws the song closer to his own reality...and on a personal note, to mine as well, touching me deeply. There's also a beautiful tribute to John Denver, JOHNNY BLUE HORIZON.

The feeling I get from Jonathan's music -- his own compositions as well as those he chooses that others have written -- is a unmistakable celebration of abundance -- abundance in life, in love, in humor, in humanity itself. It seems to honestly fill his heart, and it comes through in his music. When an artist feels that on such a profound level, it's bound to come across in his craft. Along with that, there is such a feeling of sheer joy, life and energy in his music -- and if you dont find yourself tapping your foot, or humming along, or even wiping an eye now and then, you should check your pulse. This album is as close to perfect as it could be -- it embodies all the greatest qualities of contemporary folk music. Jonathan is accompanied by some great musicians here, the production is first-rate (never overblown or heavy-handed). I can't recommend this recording highly enough.

In closing, I'd also like to advise you to check out the DVD of Jonathan Edwards: That's What Our Life Is -- it's extremely well-done, and includes interview footage as well as lots of performances, some current, some going back to the 70s.


Tips & Compliments
Tips & Compliments
Price: $14.09
25 used & new from $4.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TRULY EXCEPTIONAL SONGWRITING..., April 18, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Tips & Compliments (Audio CD)
About three weeks ago a good friend whose recommendation we trust completely told us that Matt Harlan was playing a show here in Austin, and that he was someone we shouldn't miss. We made the show, and were very impressed with his singing and playing...but especially with his songwriting. This man could play rings around himself on the guitar, all the while pouring his heart and soul into songs that are filled with deeply considered lyrics, spinning stories that leave the listener feeling as if the singer is sitting across the table relating them personally, conversationally. That's a rare gift, and Matt Harlan has it in spades. Despite those guitar chops, he never comes across as showing off - everything is there for the sake of the song, which is just as it should be. The characters he conjures are as real as they could be - and by the time the song is finished, it feels like you've known them. They're `everyman' and raw individuals at the same time.

Matt's words flow out of him in a natural way, but with the lapidary skill one would expect to find hidden in the hands of a master jeweler. Take this excerpt from `Walter', a song remembering years in the presence of a beloved dog belonging to the singer's grandfather (but what is a memory, and how often is it completely real?): `Singing li-la-li, lie-le-lie, sometimes it takes you by surprise - the time it takes to write a simple song. Sifting through the sands of time, like souvenirs you've left behind, you can't always decide what you remember.'

There are tales here of life on the road, of loves that didn't quite work out, of family members lost to bad judgment and hard luck, of friends left behind in hopeless lives, nowhere to go, physically or otherwise: `They just can't escape the gravity that holds them in this town'. There's humor here and there, as in life itself, but it's a humor tinged with a sadness that is very real. That's not to say that there are no hopeful thoughts or dreams in these songs - those are the things we cling to in this life, that keep us going, and the characters in these tunes are no different. There's always the next town, there's always joy in finding someone with whom you can share either conversation or silence. In the amazing song `Dresses', which concludes the album, Matt sings of the hope so many of us have felt in our hearts at the possibility of finding that rare level of love: `Crazy in the midnight, coming on like a mirage, she's an open-ended question when the conversation drops. There's a sweetness and a sorrow in the iris of her eyes, and after seeing quite a lot of her, I still get surprised.'

That element of sweet surprise, and the ability to recognize and cherish it, are some of life's most valuable gifts - how can hope be far from that? The balance of trouble and joy in these songs is a line as finely walked as that of life itself. To hear a singer-songwriter turn that into music is a real treat.

Get this CD - if you enjoy finely-crafted songs sung with honesty and emotion, you won't be disappointed. This is what most radio / record people would describe as `Americana' - there are elements of folk, country and blues here. The supporting musicians are excellent, as is the production - it's never overbearing or heavy-handed, and fits the material to perfection. If I had realized before I bought this that Rich Brotherton handled the production (as well as playing several instruments), I would've known that ahead of time. I'm also glad we heard Matt perform live first, just to get an up-close taste of his craft. If he comes to your area to play, miss him at your peril. This is wonderful music written and performed on a level that is rare.


Mujeres Argentinas
Mujeres Argentinas
Price: $15.99
3 used & new from $15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars great music, cheap package, June 3, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mujeres Argentinas (Audio CD)
Let me state from the first that I give the music itself 5 stars. The lower overall rating I've given this item is due to Amazon's re-packaging. True, they mention on the product page that this is a CD-R product, their contracted copy of the original release...but there's a good bit missing here, disclaimers aside. The only artwork from the original Argentine issue is the cover image itself. The rest of the artwork in this package is, I'm sure, the same as the artwork in any of their releases produced in this manner by their contractor. There are no musician credits, photos, recording information, &c. There is nothing here that one could not purchase as a download...the only 'advantage' is saving the consumer the 'trouble' of burning a copy to hold in their hand.

There are arguments to be made, of course, for making the product available in this form. It's cheaper, for one thing, than most of the Argentine import sources easily found online (with some exceptions - some are even less expensive than this CD-R version, and come with complete artwork), and it will no doubt arrive more quickly than a copy ordered from South America.

For a collector, however, it's a disappointment. Instead of ordering the other previously unavailable (in the US) titles Amazon offers by Silvia, I think I'll try a little harder to find sources for the 'real thing'.

I won't ignore the music itself (I had to get the above off my chest) - it's wonderful, as I expected. I have OJOS NEGROS as well as TIERRA DE ANDA, and this makes a nice audio addition to my collection, in spite of the bare-bones presentation. Silvia's voice is a beautiful instrument, and she uses it with feeling. The musicians who accompany her are talented and sympathetic to her style - several have played with her on previous recordings. They know her music well and provide a wonderful setting for these songs, tributes to inspirational Argentine women.

I can recommend this recording very highly. Silvia is an artist whose work I'm happy to have discovered a few years back, a great talent who deserves a wider audience. The packages on the two releases I mentioned above are beautiful, artistic treats that are a fitting visual accompaniment to the music. If you're interested and enjoy the samples offered on Amazon's site, I encourage you to make sure you're ordering the originals.


Exit
Exit
14 used & new from $14.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exploratory music of unusual beauty and depth, December 9, 2009
This review is from: Exit (Audio CD)
On EXIT, Tamura is accompanied by Takayuki Kato (guitar), Satoko Fujii (synthesizer) and Ryojiro Furusawa (drums). The sound generated by this tight unit is very much in line with the cd cover image - the double-exposure combining inside / outside components, seemingly offering an exit from this world to another, is very evocative of the music itself. Tamura's trumpet starts the first piece, appropriately entitled `Entrance', with cascading echo-lines, with Satoko adding tuned percussive sounds from her keyboard along with angular, forceful punctuations from Furusawa and Kato. There are vocalizations as well - I'm guessing they're coming from Tamura, but there is no mention of them in the notes - they add to the overall feeling of displacement and resurfacing memories and dreams that pervade not only this track, but most of both of these recordings. These feelings rise and fall with the sounds that conjure them, much in the same way that actual memories and dreams nudge their way into and out of our consciousness. I suspect that this is a purposeful attempt on Tamura's part to evoke these feelings, to draw upon the effects of them in order to connect with not just his listeners, but with himself as well. It's extremely effective - listening to this music for the first time, I had an underlying feeling of connectivity with its core that is otherwise unexplainable. `Endanger' is led off again by Tamura's trumpet, with the other instruments entering the arrangement in more subtle ways, creating a palpable surrounding presence that is vaguely threatening, the mood of the piece reflecting its title accurately. Tamura's trumpet lines become more agitated, with bursts of lines that, again, evoke something perhaps once heard, perhaps mirroring an individual's natural instinct of drawing upon something familiar and known when faced with the unsettling, possibly dangerous unknown.

`Eliminate' is a lengthier piece, clocking in at over 26 minutes, allowing the group to work through their ideas and stretch out with them - and they do so very well. Tamura's trumpet coos, warbles, sings and screams over the bubbling background provided by his bandmates. Voice-like sounds are added to the mix - whether they're generated live or drawn forth from samples is hard to determine, but they're an effective addition to the mix. Melodies are touched upon in snatches; lines appear and disappear over the very effective foundation laid down by the others, whose melodic offerings are sometimes brought to the fore also. The churning rhythms of the opening section of the piece begin to fade around 7 minutes in, giving way to a more reflective section featuring Tamura's trumpet sounding as if its tones are reaching the ears of the listener across an expanse of water, perhaps through fog - more audio equivalents of memory and dream elements, at times more felt than heard. The other instruments whisper and crackle in the background, giving the vivid impression of movement through space and / or time. Just after the half-way point in the piece, the others grow more insistent, finally charging back in to raise the energy level to a point even higher than that with which they began. Satoko's synthesizer reasserts itself as a lead instrument, suddenly dropping out to leave the drums as the main voice - the others contribute accents, followed by the insertion of more vocalizations, then more trumpet, until everyone re-enters to close out the piece in a maelstrom of sound.

`Expired' is a more low-key affair overall, with Tamura's echo-upon-echo trumpet lines offering the main trail through its darkness, with fine support from the others. His melodies zigzag over the musical landscape, with sounds (some of unknown origin) again surrounding the listener. It's a little like seeing glowing eyes in the darkness when walking through a forest - they could be real or imaginary, benign and curious or quietly plotting. Organ-like sounds from Satoko's synthesizer combine with Kato's guitar in the middle section, brought to heightened reawakening by the trumpet and drums, a churning passage that gives way to the more reflective mood of the piece's beginning to bring things to a close. The shortest track in the set, `Exit', fittingly ends the album - staccato vocalizations are accompanied by a sporadically repeated melody line on the synth here and there that brings to mind `The girl from Ipanema', which disappears again to allow the voice and percussive effects (drums or synthesizer) to bubble up here and there. The piece ends with echo-layered voices and a droning bass chord from the keyboard.

This is exploratory, aggressively experimental music - not for the faint-hearted...but at the same time, this is NOT a `noise' recording...there's a great deal of subtle and delicate beauty here. My advice would be to keep your mind and your ears open...it's a very rewarding listening experience.
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Ko Ko Ko Ke
Ko Ko Ko Ke
Price: $50.12
12 used & new from $19.42

5.0 out of 5 stars trumpet - memory - dreamscape, December 9, 2009
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This review is from: Ko Ko Ko Ke (Audio CD)
KO KO KO KE is a true solo recording - Tamura produces all of the sounds himself with his trumpet and voice. The mood of this album is less frenetic than parts of EXIT (both were recorded in 2003), but the effect of the music is no less insistent, drawing the listener into the audio world created by the artist. The elements of memory and dreams are present here as well (the cover photographs represent it beautifully visually), perhaps even more vivid in the less-populated audio canvas. Tamura is very obviously drawing upon his own memories here - not just directly, by way of tunes that he perhaps heard in his childhood, but in mood as well. The hazy, in-and-out-of-focus realm of time distance is recreated in an incredibly effective way here. There are snippets of songs - some tracks are performed solely as vocals - and evocations of traditional Japanese instruments (the shamisen and the taiko) as well. The album is as far as I can discern performed and recorded as heard, with no overdubs - it's a process that leaves the artist literally naked before the listener, with no place to hide...but the honesty and sincerity with which Tamura presents these pieces adds a quality to the music that no amount of technology could ever match. He'll play a few lines of melody on his trumpet, presented here with very little if any alteration, then sing a bit. There's a childlike innocence and openness to not only his voice on this album, but to the entire project - it's as if through the music he's recorded here, he's presenting his innermost self to the listener...and it's a very moving experience, as well as being one that is incredibly satisfying on an artistic level. The album has a feeling of intimacy that permeates every single track - it's almost as if he made this recording for himself. I'm very glad he chose to share it.
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