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In Hugh Hopper's case, age seems to be bringing with it a certain restlessness of spirit. This duo with Yumi Hara Cawkwell mines a seam of disturbed minimalism the surface of which is ruffled and undermined by Hopper's deft way with lower end sonics and Cawkwell's declamatory yet understated vocals.
It all comes together on "Hopeful Impressions Of Happiness" where any dippiness implicit in the title is put to rest by Hopper's way with tape loops and electronics and Cawkwell's incantatory yet spooked way. What's notable also is the fact that any meditative quality is purged from the music, making for a more rewarding listening experience.
A meandering quality pervades "Circular Dune" but it's not enough to alter the fact that the music is still underpinned by mutual understanding. The duo proceeds by stealth, with Cawkwell's keyboard contributions giving the music an air of unease which again lifts it above and beyond the background.
Depth of colour serves more or less the same end on "Futa" where Hopper gets emphatic and an odd, mangled theme emerges from a bed of loops and staggers around as if bewildered by the prospect of the day. If sound can be applied with the strokes of a brush then that's what's happening here, the duo melding as one even in their shared commitment to irresolution. In view of that, the fade on the piece is singularly appropriate.
"Seki no Gohonmatsu" is arguably governed by that irresolution. Cawkwell's vocal, consisting as it does largely of long tones, flirts with the unworldly but Hopper's bass guitar manipulations keep the music grounded in a place that's all too worldly, one that's welcoming to any and every adventurous spirit.
"Long Dune" is perhaps fusion purged of all excesses. Cawkwell spins out some lines on what sounds like almost straight piano while Hopper sounds in thrall to irresolution. By sheer dint of the lack of volume the music holds the attention, rich as it is in the promise of something to be resolved. The fact that it isn't resolved is perhaps the best testimony to how open-ended this duo's approach is.
Track Listing: Long Dune; Shiranui; Seki no Gohonmatsu; Circular Dune; Scattered Forest; Hopeful Impressions Of Happiness; Awayuki I; Awayuki II; Distant Dune; Futa.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.