You'll never fit trumpeter Natsuki Tamura into any pre-fab category. He creates his own, then pulls you into them with him.
Last year's Hada Hada (NatSat'03), featuring a plugged-in Tamura alongside his wife, Satoko Fujii, on synthesizers, howled with electro-nuclear energy, a disc that probably should have been sold with those lead aprons that dentists drape over you to protect the vital parts from x-rays. Ko Ko Ko Ke , on the other hand, takes an hundred and eighty degree turn away from that sound, on an accoustic solo trumpet/voice outing.
The words that Tamura chants here are meaningless, an "imaginary language," according to the liner notes. A low-key, slow-tempo, a cappella scat of sorts, slipped in to the softly melodic trumpet lines.
That "softly melodic" was the surprise to me. On previous outings, Tamura has taken his trumpet to every corner of the sound spectrum: squawks and squeals and groans, roars and howls mixed in with segments of lovely straight ahead blowing. Always energetic. On Ko Ko Ko Ke he settles into a subdued sound, prayer-like throughout.
This is a contemplative disc, to a fault, perhaps. The same medium slow tempo can have a lulling effect on the listener after a half a disc's worth. But some perspective: I intially found Hada Hada too intense to stay with for a full listen, but a year after first hearing that sound, the disclead apron in placestill finds its way to the stereo from time to time. I suspect Ko Ko Ko Ke will, too.