Among her vast catalog of formations of every size and shape, some of Satoko Fujii's most interesting work has been in duos, especially those with percussionists. Her most recent such outing was Confluence (Libra, 2019) with Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez, surprisingly melodic, especially compared to her previous drum and piano releases. Fujii reunites with Tatsuya Yoshida on Baikamo and the results are persistently fiery. A listener familiar with Yoshida's role in the alternative rock duo Ruins (with bassist/vocalist Sasaki Hisashi) knows that he breaks the mold for hyper-disruptive drumming. His previous albums with FujiiToh-Kichi (Victo, 2002) and Erans (Tzadik, 2005)demonstrate that Yoshida doesn't need the rock genre to detonate the drum set.
The sixteen tracks on Baikamo are relatively short with only three clocking in at more than five minutes. That brevity is welcome given the intensity of many tracks. The duo comes out of the gate like a back-alley brawl on "Gidvbadhophen" and then moves on to a more constricted, but no less exhausting, "Rolling Down." For its first thirty-seconds, "Hvwebsjhoill" is a respite of gentle notes and brushes and then it explodes into chaos. The dronish rumbling of "No Reflection" quickly gives way to a more organized, but rollicking potboiler. "Ovwebkwum"the longest track on the albumis the kind of cacophonous extended technique improvisation that is a staple of Fujii's work. The album closes with an unanticipated compositiona trademark of Fujii's; "Ice Age" is a haunting, unearthly murmur of wordless vocals and disembodied percussion.
Fujii and Yoshida evenly divide the writing credits for half of the pieces; the remainder are improvised. Though the duo's communications are hard to follow in the most frenetic passages on Baikamo, there are many remarkable examples of reciprocation such as the give-and-take on "Front Line," "Laughing Birds" and the curiously appealing title track. Baikamo has electricity in every track; flamboyance and grace interacting in a way that few other musicians have mastered to this level of perfection.
Gidvbadhophen; Rolling Down; Hvwebsjhoill; No Reflection; Zpajigemfluxss; Baikamo;
Ajhisakdafitch; Aspherical Dance; Djofaksobhisc; Laughing Birds; Ovwebkwum; Front Line;
Ruvwsevjieck; Climber’s High; Walsjhechrifo; Ice Age.
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