3

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up: The Air is Different

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up: The Air is Different Drummer Tomas Fujiwara inhabits the fertile Brooklyn scene alongside guitarist Mary Halvorson, a frequent collaborator who is part of his band, The Hook Up; alongside cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, both are also featured on collective The Thirteenth Assembly's outstanding Station Direct (Important, 2011). So it's not surprising that similarly smart multifaceted compositions, delivered through tight but sufficiently loose arrangements that allow space for left field solos, are high on the agenda on the band's sophomore effort. With only the bass chair changing since Actionspeak (482 Music, 2010), there is a facility that comes from familiarity with materials and methods.

Even though not peppered with drum solos, it is perhaps possible to discern that The Air Is Different is a drummer-led date. Evidence for the prosecution comes with the helpful explication in the liners that some of the most driving passages were in fact composed from the drum kit. But don't worry, there are more than flash grooves on hand here, across six originals spanning some 45 minutes. Even with inspiration as varied as the sound of prayer bowls, hip hop and Fujiwara's mother's singing rounds, the pieces hang together well, often going through multiple non-repeating sections.

It helps that he has assembled such an accomplished crew, with Halvorson and tenor saxophonist Brian Settles among the most distinctive voices. As it happens, the guitarist would be quickly identified even in a blindfold test by her blend of melodic finger-picking, bending pitches, and leaping distortion. Settles breaks his lines into stuttering clipped phrases reminiscent of the late Frank Lowe but tempers them with an ambiguous tonality that eschews pure intervals. That's a contrast to his frontline partner, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, whose clean exposition is also more likely to turn the honeyed phrase. On bass Trevor Dunn works in solid tandem with the leader to ease through even the trickiest switchbacks.

Fujiwara often works in layers to arrive at complex but satisfying ends. On "Lineage," a fiercely propulsive start breaks down into first a knotty trumpet pitched against wild guitar firestorms, then a section for jostling tenor atop pulsing drums. Likewise on "Cosmopolitan (Rediscovery)," a bedrock of skronk guitar and choppy rhythm contrasts with a series of languid horn unisons before transforming into a poised pastoral, with Settles at his most playful and Ben Websterish. It's only on the closing "Postcards" that the leader takes the spotlight, embellishing the piece with polyrhythmic verve. It concludes another strong album that confirms Fujiwara's union of the cerebral and the emotive as one to keep tabs on for the future.


Track Listing: Lineage; Double Lake, Defined; For Ours; Cosmopolitan (Rediscovery); Smoke-Breathing Lights; Postcards.

Personnel: Tomas Fujiwara: drums; Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; Brian Settles: tenor saxophone; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Trevor Dunn: bass.

Title: The Air Is Different | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: 482 Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Harlem CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks" CD/LP/Track Review Jailhouse Doc With Holes In Her Socks
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 24, 2016
Read "Days Are Not Days" CD/LP/Track Review Days Are Not Days
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Blueberry Ash" CD/LP/Track Review Blueberry Ash
by Barry O'Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Rise Of Orion" CD/LP/Track Review Rise Of Orion
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 15, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.