By Max Schaefer
Posted on May 8th 2008 10:22 pm
The cleft that separates this second fledgling of Yashushi Yoshida from his firstborn is its organic and free-flowing nature, the fact that it is determined by the multiplicity and perversity of nature rather than the studios technical demands.
Compositions are still structurally condensed, but Yoshida now endeavors to allow the notes to sound their natural timbres, to be infused and partially directed by the traces and contingencies of the atmosphere. The ensemble – which consists of violin, cello, clarinet, saxophone, saws and drums – therefore swoops and sweeps through the terrain, plucking, gliding, swerving and bending as they follow a wildly varying and versatile vision.
What begins on a sombre note finds a linear progression to serenity through to festivity and finally troubled agitation. It’s a path that is not without its rough spots, but more than anything else, it plays well off of the human capacity to suspend disbelief and get caught up and live through such travails.
As on Yoshida’s previous work, dark, doomy vistas have a tendency to be emphasized. More than before, though, Yoshida cracks them open such that tiny elements and embellishments of myriad color rise out of the pearling sustain of the strings, making for a more dynamic and manifold sound field. The addition of drums, though at times a trifle too spry, also goes a long way toward this end. When a piece gathers percussive momentum from jarring strikes and hurried strokes, they attain a worldly and brutal heaviness that holds them in orbit. Once removed, their absence allows the composition a stronger access to the vertical, as on Under Calf, Winged Steps, which ascends on persistently unravelling and sensuously vibrating long lines of violin.
Yoshida also displays a certain mindfulness of which instruments are called for and how they are best employed. The album is wide-reaching, but also fairly patient in its exploration of the potential use of its instruments. Martial drums, on the odd occasion that they are used, thus draw attention to other styles in their marked contrast. Similarly, the rare and fleeting sound of a saw, disembodied and ethereal, makes the other stringed instruments sound positively surrealistic. In this regard, Little Grace touches upon the otherness in the natural and everyday.