Roger Turner and Otomo Yoshihide – The Last Train

The Last Train

At even moderate volume, I can feel through the floorboards the yawing swell of feedback with which Otomo Yoshihide introduces “The Wait”. But it’s soon tweaked off, so that the guitarist can engage Roger Turner’s scuttling percussion with likewise abstracted but on point precision.

Late last year I reviewed Yoshihide’s duet with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love on jvtlandt, a high intensity affair that, at it’s most heated, found Yoshihide exploring out-rock territory, a la Fushitsusha. Elsewhere on that date, he plays with enough delicacy to remind us of his formative experiments with no-input electronics. A new release, The Last Train (Fataka) was recorded at Tokyo’s Hara Museum in February 2013, two months before Yoshihide’s encounter with Nilssen-Love. Unsurprisingly, since Turner favours small kit percussion, and has a light touch that couldn’t be further from Nilssen-Love’s forcefulness, it offers quite a contrast, often coming close to the quiet, thoughtful improv style Turner that perfected over years with The Recedents.

After that feedback-enriched opening, “The Wait” (16:28) settles into a pattern of sustained high-tone feedback from Yoshihide, with rustled hand bells and a metal-click pulses from Turner, before morphing into a surf of cymbal wash and refracted gong tones. Eventually the mood darkens and the music swells, seemingly only to subside back into existing sonorities. But the mood has changed, the performance become more tense and febrile.

The duo now play around a central well of silence, reining back to emit only the most attenuated soundings. A lengthy passage of near-silence in the last corner finally blooms into a lightly abrasive coda, whipped up by Turner with light sticks on tight skins, rims and woodblocks while Yoshihide produces an unearthly, etherial electro-acoustic sound.

“The Sign” runs with the prevailing mood, but the duo condense and abbreviates gestures to produce an eight-minute thicket of pressurised abrasions and detonations. It’s a brisk, bright and explosively mutable piece, and Yoshihide’s guitar swells, goading Turner into moments of dramatic emphases. The following drawn-down is only momentary, its reversal finally sparking a flash of outright barbed aggression.

The players take stock on “Crack” (11:41), sending small resonances probing into silence. Yoshihide taps on gently, dropping small pebbles of sound into the radiance of Turner’s bowed gongs and cymbals. As they work things up from there, with Turner increasingly frenetic, Yoshihide plays sustain drones, maintaining a balance, until a twist in the tail of this performance looses another brief passage of tumult. Yoshihide flays the fretboard with his rebar pickup, scoring lacerations across the already prickly density of of Turner’s tumbleweed percussion.

“Run” is short at 3:53, but it’s complete unto itself, and neat encapsulation of the whole. Yoshihide plays, with free concision, what might be a free jazz variation of the sort he’d explore at greater length with his New Jazz Trio, while Turner is at his most elemental, instantly deferential and puckishly individualistic.

That balance of deference and passion is the key to the success of this duo. The lightness with which Turner and Yoshihide hold volatility mostly in abeyance but sacrifice none of their performance’s near-ritualistic formal tension is remarkable, and makes for a thrilling listen.

Roger Turner drumset and percussion; Otomo Yoshihide guitar and amplifier.

Related Posts
Otomo Yoshihide & Paal Nilsen-Love (s/t)
Oleszak / Turner – Fragments of Parts
Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M, Evan Parker, Tony Marsh, John Edwards, John Butcher – Quintet, Sextet, Duos
The Recedents (Lol Coxhill, Mike Cooper, Roger Turner) – Wishing You Were Here

Buy The Last Train direct from Fataka.

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