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Aki Takase / Lauren Newton: Spring In Bangkok

Nic Jones By

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Both Aki Takase and Lauren Newton have shown admiral commitment to music on the margins, and this is a highly idiosyncratic documentation of their work in progress. The term "singing" has never be adequate for what Newton does with her voice, and the fact that so much of her communication is non-verbal gives this music a timeless air, lifting it out of the specifics of reading lyrics. The upholders of "the tradition" should not be getting crimson of face, however, as this is an entirely different music.

This fact is perhaps best exemplified by "Absturz Und Wiedergeburt," not least because Takase proves that she is also not reliant upon the natural range of the piano for her own expression. The results, marked as they are by the duo's deep empathy in the use of space and silence, make for listening that's compelling through the means of the unraised voice, of silence as a tool in the service of tension and release.

On the relatively brief "Insel" Takase proves how adept her touch is, utilising it to lend light and shade to her disjointed lines. Newton sounds as if she's utilising overheard snatches of conversation or two or three-word exclamations, and the everyday is thus raised to a level that is anything but. The overall effect is of music that is extraordinarily expansive given the sparseness of resources deployed.

This is, however, music that balances its gravity with humour and a remarkable warmness. The joys of spontaneous invention rarely seem to be caught on record with this clarity and sense of purpose, as abundantly evidenced by "A Bis Z," a piece whose essentially episodic nature paradoxically enhances the seamless flow of the duo's ideas.

Musicianship is one thing and the ability to use it tellingly is another, especially in the field of improvised music. When it's brought to bear as effectively as it is here, the results are a fine antidote to the tried and tired.


Track Listing: Der Wind Ist Westwind; Eins Ums Andere; Insel; A Bis Z; Sakura No Solo; Fruhling In Bangkok; Fortsetzung Folgt; Density; Afrikanische Zunge; Dae Scheint Mir...; Absturz Und Wiedergeburt; Kommt Es Nah.

Personnel: Lauren Newton: voice; Aki Takase: piano.

Title: Spring In Bangkok | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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