Tsurubami - "Gekkyukekkaichi"
(Strange Attractors Audio House 2003, SAAH015)

Uploaded to Aural Innovations: October 2003

Like a wintry meditation beneath a frozen sun, the profound and spacious symphonic textures of Gekkyukekkaichi blow icy winds through your mind and lift your body into realms unknown. The latest album from Tsurubami, their first for the Strange Attractors label, is less noisy than their other release of this year and perhaps even grander in scope. The band, consisting of Acid Mothers Temple front men, Kawabata Makoto on guitar and Higashi Hiroshi on bass as well as their Tenkyo no To collaborator Emi Nobuko on drums, plays music that is entirely improvised. It’s an intense, soul searching contemplation that is as far from the soothing bliss of new age as heavy metal is, but still manages to be a deeply reflective space in which the listener will feel as if he or she has been freed from physical bounds.

The album consists of just two lengthy pieces. Gekkyukekkaichi, the first, sets a tone of introspection without ever lapsing into laziness. There are no repetitive riffs, no driving beats... yet it all works, feeling both structured and unstructured at the same time. Kawabata’s explorations of guitar and feedback are soft, while Hiroshi’s bass tiptoes along underneath, conducting secret explorations of its own. Nobuko’s drums enter and retreat, all fills and rolls and tapping cymbals, never quite in the forefront, sometimes even lapsing into complete silence. Through it all, shimmering feedback sways and ebbs like great ocean waves. The vast Seiitenrinengi is more symphonic in nature, at least in its earlier parts. Again you get a strange sense of almost structure, like the sound of some ghostly orchestra heard on the wind, but never actually seen. Kawabata’s guitar (and let me stress here, that nothing sounds exactly what you might expect to hear from a guitar) swoops and soars around it. Feedback wells up from the distance, flowing past you, bristling the hairs on the back of your neck, before it all fades into a quasi-jazzy style of trickling guitar notes and strange, off kilter rhythms. It’s followed by more hazy feedback explorations and a final long, meditative journey of deep symphonic swells.

The cover art is quite appropriate. Somewhere between the firm ground of earth and the vast emptiness of space, nearly, but not quite touching heaven, there is a realm of stratospheric iciness where soft white clouds yield sudden fury in the form of dark and churning storms, then give way to crystal pure sunlight. Gekkyukekkaichi embodies all of these things.

For more information you can visit the Strange Attractors Audio House web site at: http://www.strange-attractors.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Strange Attractors Audio House; PO Box 13007; Portland, OR 97213.

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

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