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Satoko Fujii & Otomo Yoshihide — Perpetual Motion
(Bandcamp Ayler Records, 2023, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-11-20

Perpetual Motion Cover art

Satoko Fujii’s recorded work has spanned a wide range of moods, from quiet and introspective acoustic piano to chaotic large ensembles, and Perpetual Motion finds her in collaboration with experimental guitarist Yoshihide Otomo, whom some readers might remember from the wild avant-prog band Ground Zero or the uncategorizable band Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden. The pair present four continuous tracks of free improvisation that contrasts moments of harmonic calmness, where subtle overtones are allowed to ring, with segments of intense noise, where the piano is subjected to all manner of unconventional techniques and the guitar squalls atonally. Certainly there is no attention paid to such concepts as tonality or harmony — this is more about pure sound. Fujii can be heard reaching inside the piano to pluck, scrape, or hammer the strings, though I hear no electronic enhancements from her side. Otomo similarly coaxes unusual sounds from his guitar, though electronics are certainly involved. He’s not indulging in a wide range of effects — mainly just distortion — but in conjunction with his string-bending and dissonance, the range of sound is quite impressive. Feedback is kept in check, and never overwhelms the acoustic piano. Don’t be looking for anything resembling guitar-hero shredding, even of the heady Fripp variety. This is more along the lines of Fred Frith or Nels Cline at their most uninhibited (or Bill Horist, if you’re familiar with his work for prepared guitar). No, it does not have a beat, so you could only dance to it in the most abstract of ways, but there’s a kind of harsh beauty to the sounds produced. This is certainly one of the more extreme entries in Satoko Fujii’s extensive catalog, and I find it quite fascinating.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Otomo Yoshihide, Satoko Fujii

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