Wherever pianist Satoko Fujii and her husband, the trumpeter Natsuki Tamura ply their trade, the unusual follows. Without fail, bothindividually and togetherhave been the purveyors of a collective catalog that has never failed to astound. One of their many outlets has been the free-improvisational group Kaze with drummer Peter Orins and trumpeter Christian Pruvost. While Fujii and Tamura are the drawing card names, Orinsa fine composer in his own rightwas the original initiator of the quartet. This variationTrouble Kazewas again Orins' concept -the addition of a second pianist, Sophie Agnel, and a second drummer, Didier Lasserre. The "trouble" part of the name derived from what Orins describes as the conundrum of how to accurately identify the formation; a triple duo or double trio. On June, the naming convention is the least of the challenges.
The new additions to the group, both French nationals, are obscured in the creditsas are all the musiciansas it is not made clear which player is active at any particular moment. Further masking the participants is the overall abstruse nature of the music; there are no prolonged melodies on June until we reach "Part IV" of the five-part suite. The opening "Part I" is very experimental, at times sounding like the tracking system of a depth charge, augmented by heavy bells, elasticized duck calls from a trumpet and playing inside and outside the pianos. "Part II" employs a number of similar extended techniques but concludes in a screaming flow of frenzied noises. The thirteen-plus minute "Part IV" is the first consistent setting for clearly identifying instruments by their conventional sound, not that there is anything conventional about the piece. There is an eerie melodicism in this piece that is completely mesmerizing, as it periodically evaporates into complete silence then emerges in strange otherworldly sounds. Similarly mysterious is the final "Part V" with its obsidian piano and intermittent trumpet blasts and skittering percussion.
If one enters into June with preconceived notions about music, they will be challenged to think again. Recorded live in Lille, France in 2016, without audience feedback, and with no breaks between the tracks, it is an extraordinary accomplishment that requires multiple plays to really absorb its essence. The real appeal of this collection transcends the overall content; it is fascinating in the intricacies of detail within the episodic narratives and it is unlike anything else.
Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V.
Satoko Fujii: piano; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Peter Orins: percussion; Christian Pruvost: trumpet; Sophie Agnel: piano; Didier Lasserre: percussion.