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Yagihashi + Sato + Higo

Temple of No Power No Virtue (CDR)

>If one expected Cohort Records to be a label for the drone, dark ambient and isolationist music areas, this new release proves one wrong. This is all about quiet improvisation music. Yagihashi Tsukasa (alto sax), Sato Yukie (electric guitar, electronics) and Higo Hiroshi (electric bass, electronics) played the music that now found it's way to this CDR at The Temple Of No Power No Virtue in September last year. The trio plays free jazz, in a sort of regular way, but they do it in a rather soft way. It starts out with some playing in a very soft style, almost in an onkyo kind of way, but throughout these four long pieces, the saxophone plays quite regular notes, whereas the guitars play more drone related stuff. Its highly atmospherical music that is quite pleasant to hear, even at this length. (Vital, FdW)

>Alto sax player Yagihashi Tsukasa has explored some of the more subtle regions of jazz improv over the years, often with the help of Sato Yukie on guitar and electronics. Here they are joined for a live performance by electronic engineer and mixer Hiro Hiroshi, to create a lush, surprising ambient mood. Over these four untitled tracks, the trio explores free jazz, post-avant noise, and electronica, looping and pausing those loops to let the dust settle where it will in the ears of the listener.While Yagihashi’s sax sets the course for each new excursion, it is Sato’s guitar that provides the fuel, sometimes shouting out with Derek Bailey-esque authority, other times preferring to demur and, like Robert Fripp, content himself with the universe boiling up from the rhythm. This is experimentation with grace and teeth, always being lead to deep expression by the sweet alto sound. 8/10 (Foxy Digitalis)  

>This time I was taken by surprise, as this Japanese improvising trio is extremely discordant from the usual canons of this label, mostly based on abstract and minimal electronica. Yagihashi Tsukasa (alto sax), Sato Yukie (electric guitar, electronics), and Higo Hiroshi (electric bass, electronics) move around coordinates that could be more easily associable to Fred Frith and - in part - Loren Connors than to, say, Naked City, even if some of Yagihashi's most unpredictable spurts could recall the most lyrical side of John Zorn. This album, a live recording in Tokyo, gets better with time after a pretty uncertain start; Sato and Higo exploit their effects thoroughly, mistreating their strings until they growl, rumble and shriek, only to bring them back into more hypnotic backgrounds over which Yagihashi plays with composed eagerness, sniffing the air in search of elusive pseudo-melodic chips. Despite the above mentioned names, the concoction results personal and definitely comprehensible, a lucid kind of free playing that, by remaining within certain borders, manages to touch more nerve than expected, making me curious to hear more from these artists. (Touching Extremes)

>Never be blinkered. I can never understand people who aren’t willing to at least give a go at music which they wouldn’t normally touch. Surely life is all about experiencing and experimenting. Well that’s in an ideal world. We all know this very rarely happens. We are governed by our preconceptions and will not allow the faintest hint of something we have already discounted be allowed to darken our mindsets. Of course being a reviewer I cannot allow such negativity to appear in one of my reviews. In normal circumstances I would never have been sent this to write up. At Heathen Harvest all music is matched up to a reviewers individual taste. The reason I have to listen to this is because the reviewer who initially had it didn’t want to review music any more. Therefore rather than let the record label down I accepted the challenge and took on the responsibility of at least penning something. No-one else on Heathen Harvest having an interest to this form of music being another reason for it landing with a thump on my plate. Being so agreeable will be the death of me one day. From the off let me tell you I’m way out of my depth of knowledge here. This genre of music being totally alien to these ears. The names Yagihashi Tsukasa (alt sax), Sato Yukie (electric guitar & electronics) and Higo Hiroshi (electric bass & electronics) meaning zilch. I’m sure within the confines of those in the know these are all well respected musicians with years of pedigree behind them. This recording features the trio in a live performance at the Temple of No Power No Virtue Tokyo on 29th September 2005. I’ll confess to dreading this release. The word ‘jazz’ is enough to make me want to curl up and hibernate for eternity. Jazz is always jazz as far as I’m concerned. Which shows my ignorance up in a new light. Worse still was the knowledge that this music was of the ‘improvisation’ variety. Oh my. Time to do what a reviewer must do. Which is why I said at the start that you should never be blinkered towards music. Having spun this recording a good few times I can wholly recommend it to the ‘experimental’ music fans who are reading this. There’s so much going on here throughout the four tracks that you tend to forget that it is, for all intents and purposes, a jazz recording. The sax playing of Yagihashi leads throughout the recording but also works in tandem with Sato and Higo to create a rich and varied textured sound. There’s an element of semi-drone induced pieces sitting in the background along with the electronic effects as the music winds its way through its maze like passages. Although the pieces are fairly long in structure they never become boring or feel self indulgent. The artists getting their best from their instruments as they strive for musical perfection. This is ‘art’ of the highest calibre and a reminder that this form of music can be highly atmospheric in the right hands. The only downside that I can see, apart from categorising it as a jazz recording, would be that you would need to be in the right frame of mind to listen to it. That though goes for any ‘experimental’ piece of music. Or music in general come to think about it. The fact that Cohort Records has decided to release this, considering how good their back catalogue is, says plenty about this recording. My only hope is that there are enough open minded people out there willing to give this a shot. By being limited to only 100 copies perhaps Cohort themselves are testing the water to see if this will sell enough to justify further releases within this genre. Time alone will tell. Doesn’t it always. (Heathen Harvest)