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]
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, 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 seemingly 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 (listen to the massive, sustained piano bit at the 8:05 mark from Satoh) for Sakata to amble over. “Bullet Apoptosis” recalls Dolphy’s film noir suite-cum-masterpiece Out to Lunch with all the intensity of Last Exit (minus the later’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 kit available belling, bowing, slashing, 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.