6 February

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Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon — Leave No Trace: Live In St. Louis (2018, Family Vineyard)

Listen [F.V. Bandcamp]

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Tyler Damon’s glassy opening cadence on top of Tashi Dorji’s hazy guitar swells form an eerie sonic vignette which gingerly filters into the listener’s ears. One cannot help but recall the lowering gate arm and ringing bell at a level crossing. An apt notion indeed, as the train that approaches is the tandem sounds of Dorji and Damon who set out to incinerate the air as they blast forth from the stereo, full-speed ahead on their second long playing release on Indianapolis’ Family Vineyard. Leave No Trace is two tracks -that’s all the duo need. This release is devoid of any bullshit. “Calm The Shadows” is the sound of meditating heavy machinery. If one listens beyond the immediate bombast, there remains an unmistakable serenity. The flip side of the slab is the titular “Leave No Trace.” At times sparse and reminiscent of the blurred swagger of the A side’s opening bars, yet unafraid to meander into dangerous territory. The duo possess the ability to bewitch and entrance the listener, yet do not shy away from exploring the shadowy interstices which fleetingly appear in their sonic traversals. Few contemporary outfits can take up the platitudinous tools which rock’n’roll has worn down to the point of absolute banality and so masterfully repurpose them to craft something so wholly original, enthralling, and incendiary. Remaining in the discursive universe of rock music(s), one must recall Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins’ remark that the first time he saw the Clash in the late 1970s. Rollins recalled the group played with such unrelenting ferocity, that it seemed impossible that there would be any corporal or sonic remnants left of the band by the end of the set. Listening to Damon and Dorji, one is able to appreciate these sentiments in a contemporary context. The title isn’t merely a descriptor, rather it’s a statement of intent. As is the case with any collaboration between Dorji and Damon Leave No Trace is not to be missed.   

 

5 February

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Akira Sakata & Chikamorachi with Masahiko Satoh —  Proton Pump (2018, Family Vineyard)

Listen [“Proton Pump” and “Voyage of Eukaryote” available to stream on F.V. bandcamp]

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2018 is off to a cracking start, no thanks to the Family Vineyard label, who are quickly becoming a mainstay at Marginal HQ with their steady supply of superlative sounds. This latest release by Japanese stalwart, alto saxophonist Akira Sakata, sets 2018 smoothly in motion. Falling somewhere between Coltrane’s Village Vanguard releases and his final work with Rashied Ali, Akira Sakata along with Chikamorachi (aka Chris Corsano on drums and Darin Gray on bass) and Masahiko Satoh on piano, take up the mantle as standard bearers of contemporary free musics. The title track, ‘Proton Pump’ manages to traverse varying sonic milieus of intensity: at times the ensemble sound-off with such ardor, they sound as if they are ready to burst clean off the stage, fragmenting in the process into interminable specks of aural detritus. At other times, canyons of breathing space remain for Sakata to amble over (listen to the massive, sustained piano bit at the 8:05 mark from Satoh). ‘Bullet Apoptosis’ recalls Dolphy’s film noir suite-cum-masterpiece Out to Lunch with all the intensity of Last Exit (minus the latter’s cloying 1980s production). Part spiritual reckoning, part Corsano masterclass, and part exorcism, ‘Chemiosmotic Coupling of Acorn’ might be the most solid cut on an LP of most solid cuts. Satoh’s playful piano drives the piece, while Sakata employs howls, yells, throat singing, and chanting. Corsano rips through every piece of kit available belling, bowing, slashing, and rolling along the way. Gray’s serpentine peppering on the low end stretches the tune in a way that threatens to bring the universal percolator to a boil and reorder the cosmos—Charlie Haden’d be proud. If Proton Pump is at all indicative of the shape of musics to come in 2018, this year is going to be an absolute cracker.