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Ikue Mori / Satoko Fujii + Natsuki Tamura — Prickly Pear Cactus
(Libra 203-062, 2020, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-05-17

Prickly Pear Cactus Cover art

When you put Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura in a room with microphones and no plans, you know you’re in for some unconventional sounds. Add Ikue Mori into the mix, and it gets even further out. In the case of Prickly Pear Cactus, the real twist comes from the fact that Fujii and Tamura were in Japan and Mori was in New York. Of course, the impetus for this methodology came from a worldwide pandemic that made international travel impossible, but it’s probably safe to say that the results here prove that it’s an approach that would be valid even in less restrictive times. It all started when Fujii mentioned to Mori that she’d been recording piano solos at home. Mori asked her to send a file that she could build upon, and a collaboration was born. The ten tracks presented here were assembled in various ways, with the initial recording starting on one side or the other, then passing back and forth. Some piano-and-electronics pieces had trumpet added; some started as Fujii / Tamura duets. Mori assembled the pieces into their final forms. The end result is by turns crazed, whimsical, moody, and lyrical, and for listeners who have heard multiple duo albums with Fujii and Tamura, the addition of Mori is a welcome wild-card element. Her electronics swoop, burble, bleep, shriek, and clatter like R2-D2 singing along with a theremin. Throughout, the listener is treated to the joyful sound of creativity roaming free without regard to convention or form. Given the process involved, the degree of “spontaneity” is somewhat open to interpretation, but is also an irrelevant question. The key factor is that the amount of premeditation was minimal. And to my ear, it’s just fun to hear.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Satoko Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, Ikue Mori

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