Natsuki Tamura – trumpet | Satoko Fujii – piano | Kelly Churko – guitar | Tatsuhisa Yamamoto – drums
Recorded and mixed and mastered by Naoto Araki. Recorded on June 17, 2009 at Pit Inn, Tokyo. Executive producer: Satoko Fujii. Artwork: Ichiji Tamura. Design: Masako Tanaka. Photography: Miho Watanabe.
Tracklist: 1. Cut The Rope [13:49] 2. Headwaters [9:42] 3. Flashback [4:22] 4. Kaleidoscoic [24:21] 5. Sublimation [13:05]
One day I got an email
from a friend: “I want to bring 15 or 20 of my students to one of your gigs. Will you be playing anywhere in Tokyo during the next month?” Uh-oh! We didn’t have any performances scheduled in town during that period, but we certainly couldn’t afford to ignore 15 or 20 potential customers. Could we find a place to play by then? Could we find musicians available on such short notice?
We finally found an open date at Knuttel House in Kappabashi, but none of the bands we play in had all their members free that day. Fine, we decided, we’ll form a new band — and so First Meeting was born. This is not to say we launched this band with no conception in mind. Actually, we had been talking about starting a “noise band” for some time. It’s just that when the time came, the launch was rather abrupt. It has turned out to be a lot of fun. We are definitely about noise, so there is plenty of BUSHAA, GUSHAA, GIGIGI, and GOBOGOBO. But there are also a variety of beats, and even the occasional lovely harmony or melody.
In many improvised music sessions or bands, playing a diatonic scale can get you some evil looks. First Meeting, however, is completely free in that respect. The range of volume and expression is also as broad as we can make it. If you want to see for yourself, come to one of our gigs. And bring 15 or 20 friends, please. — Natsuki Tamura (Translation by Alan Gleason)
Photo by Toru Sasaki
Trumpeter Natsuki Tamura creates a vast expanse of sound
on Cut the Rope, the first album recorded with his band First Meeting. Nothing is predictable on this wholly improvised album that ranges from aspects of a vision of being marooned on a desolate soundscape to the musicians ultimately finding their way into a melodic river of sound, after at first coming perilously close to losing all sense of direction. But Tamura is an expert guide: he wields his horn like a sonic standard bearer, guiding his improvising crew from opening figure to group improvisation and back to a resolution, despite traversing some of the most varied paths in song.
Tamura bleats, howls and snorts his way through dune-like structures, disturbed only by the drone of guitarist Kelly Churko’s incessant scratching and wild ramblings via acoustic feedback and pedals of every kind. In the absence of a bassist to anchor the expedition, drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto devises various signature rattling figures on snare drum and tom-toms, allowing only so much chaos to enter the proceedings as to create just a ripple—not enough to detract completely from the organized chaos of the track. Tamura’s wife, pianist Satoko Fujii, completes the quartet, providing oblique angles to each piece.
On the title track, Fujii uses a prepared form of the instrument, manipulating strings and pedals to create a shimmering resonance that allows the track to swing tremulously, as the rest of the musicians soar unfettered to improvise and fantasize. On “Headwaters” Fujii plays a fanciful folksy figure almost throughout, anchoring the piece in a bleak, yet peaceful place, so the musicians are forever guided by the myth of tradition. Churko sets fire to “Flashback” with hot slashes, while Tamura seemingly fans the flames of the proceeding elements. Fujii, once again, appears to play an anchoring role harmonically, as Yamamoto’s rhythmic invention calls for him to join the improvisation as well. “Kaleidoscope” possesses a swirling structure, with Churko drawing from folk melodies, as Tamura and Fujii reference everything from the diatonic rambling of warrior bugling, and the suggested serialism of Schoenberg, to the shattering figures reminiscent of Stockhausen and Boulez. Tamura brings this exciting set to a close with “Sublimation,” but not before stirring the still waters enough to create a generous ripple, into which all the other musicians dive ostensibly on cue.
The is a short, eventful set expertly construed by Tamura, where brilliant sound collages are erected with architectural expertise and a subtle elegance. Fujii, Yamamoto and Churko contribute more than simply color; their ideas are integral to the collisions that ensue, when four improvising musicians meet with heads full of suggestions for a sonic journey full of surprises. — Raul D’Gama Rose
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)