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Album Review

Gordon Grdina's The Twain feat. Dōjō and Kōichi Makigami: Gordon Grdina's The Twain feat. Dōjō and Kōichi Makigami


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Gordon Grdina's The Twain feat. Dōjō and Kōichi Makigami: Gordon Grdina's The Twain feat. Dōjō and Kōichi Makigami
Any music lover impressed with the prolific output of multi-instrumentalist Gordon Grdina over the last few years would no doubt describe his work with The Twain as a wondrous discovery. Three hour- long sets were recorded at Tokyo's GOK Studio in 2019, then edited down to a final approximately seventy minutes for a late 2022 release. It is certainly worth waiting for, if for no other reason than it both illustrates and reaffirms the broad grasp of the Canadian's musicality and generosity of spirit in collaboration.

Beginning with a howl on "Old Grudge," the sturm und drang of Grdina's electric guitars and Tamaya Honda's drums make for an attention-getting commencement. At the same time, it is an ideal setup for "Spinal Fusion," where the angular vocals of Koichi Makigami encircle similar instrumentation and render it all supremely ghostly.

Oddly enough (or perhaps not), this longest cut of the dozen at 9:02 is as simultaneously compelling to hear as it is off-putting to listen to. Passing in the proverbial blink of an eye, it depicts the relative dynamics of the album, intentionally or not, as the ever-so-slightly subdued "Nengemisho'' allows the musicians to proceed at a more deliberate pace. In the last minute or so of the track, however, they ratchet up the intensity to match that which otherwise comprises the bulk of the LP.

Still, the altitude at which the foursome soars lessens somewhat —though to no great loss—with "Gullwing." The ensemble proceeds apace with two cuts that follow, in the form of "Humpback," then the record's shortest track, the 2:03 "Rushhour:" here Grdina and the Twain play with silence to almost the same extent they play with their at least partially acoustic instruments. The gentle, intricate interplay is a welcome respite here near the mid-point of the record, if only to allow absorption of the stimulating likes of what has preceded, as well as in preparation for what bounty is to come such as the muted dissonance of "Undercurrent."

Unplugged back and forth combines here with a gruff voice to stretch the attention span, Meanwhile, adding Kōichi's cornet to the mix on "Circe"— along with theremin, jaw harp and koto at various points—is a reminder of what a savvy distillation of the original sessions this title is. In further affirmation of that point (as if it was necessary), there is the ultra-smooth segue from "Orochi" into "Divergent Dialect:"; deliberately echoing the initial entry of voice earlier on imbues this artful and evocative composite of performances with a welcome circular logic.

Kudos on that front among others, including the broad and well-defined stereo mix, to co- producers Grdina and John Raham (as well as associate Mark E. Rappaport). Such a complimentary sentiment also occurs when hearing the thrashing of "The Depths," a track which, in keeping with the fundamental inspiration behind this record, concludes its music with purposeful, powerful emphasis.

Track Listing

Old Grudge; Spinal Fusion; Nengemisho; Gullwing; Humpback; Rushhour; Undercurrent; Circe; Orochi; Divergent Dialect; Acheron River; The Depths.


Gordon Grdina: oud; Michiyo Yagi: koto; Makigami Koichi: voice / vocals; Tamaya Honda: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Gordon Grdina: electric guitar; Michiyo Yagi: electric 21-string koto, 17- string bass koto, electronics; Tamaya Honda: percussion; Makigami Kōichi: theremin, Jew’s harp, cornet, shakuhachi.

Album information

Title: Gordon Grdina's The Twain feat. Dōjō and Kōichi Makigami | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Black Dot Records

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