Jul 3 2014
This is the kind of free jazz where jumping off a cliff is more about how you flap your wings than how well you succeed at flying, and where hitting ground might be preferable to floating. On Arashi, the trio of Akira Sakata, Johan Berthling and Paal Nilssen-Love offer up four tracks of serious intensity, serious fun.
The best thing about opening track “Arashi (Storm)” is its relentlessness. A focused force of nature, the trio burns a path as precise as a straight line, and as deep as a scar. Some roller coasters have the most amazing views from above, but often the rider’s attention is a captive of the speed and force of the cart in motion. So it is with “Arashi (Storm),” though there are moments when it provides a glimpse of an amazing horizon line, just before the imagery becomes blurry yet again from the speed.
The best thing about “Ondo No Huna-Uta (Rower´s Song of Ondo)” has got to be the way Sakato’s voice dances off the percussive nail heads. It’s so over-the-top aggressive as to incite smiles, not fear.
The best thing about “Dora” is how Berthling’s bass bubbles up from the surface, in between fiery dispensations from Sakata’s alto sax and the driving tumult of Nilssen-Love’s drums. The tiny resonance of that bass breaking through the clearing has such a chipper rhythmic appeal that the contrast between it and the furious onslaught of the rest of the track is quite arresting.
The album closes with a quieter, more cerebral tune. “Fukushima No Ima (Fukushima Now)” has Sakata musing wistfully on clarinet, while Berthling and Nilssen-Love offer up conversational asides that are indelibly tangential to the conversation at hand. It ends with a dash to the finish line, but even this furious coda isn’t enough to dispel the brooding serenity that preceded it. And that is the best thing about the final track, which is a good thing, because there really was no better way to bring down the curtains on this very fun recording.
Your album personnel: Akira Sakata (alto sax, clarinet, voice), Johan Berthling (double bass), and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums, percussion).
Released on Trost Records.
That cool album cover by Cover image by Sagaki Keita.
Some other stuff you should probably know:
This is Sakata’s first mention on this site, but the free jazz veteran has been putting out solid music for decades. The most recognizable reference I could make would be his membership in the Last Exit outfit, which included Sonny Sharrock, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Bill Laswell, and Peter Brotzmann. Johan Berthling is a member of Martin Küchen‘s Angles 9 ensemble and the Fire! Orchestra… both ensembles who have recently put out strong 2014 releases. In fact, the Angles 9 release Injuries was recently my eMusic/Wondering Sound Pick of the Week, and Enter, by Fire! Orchestra was a very close second to getting named Pick of the Week. Paal Nilssen-Love is a member of The Thing, a trio whose recent collaboration with Neneh Cherry was all kinds of wonderful.