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 Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read The Romeo and Juliet Project CD/LP/Track Review The Romeo and Juliet Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Crystal Machine CD/LP/Track Review Crystal Machine
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Alameda Gardens" CD/LP/Track Review Alameda Gardens
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 22, 2016
Read "The Other Shore" CD/LP/Track Review The Other Shore
by John Sharpe
Published: September 26, 2016
Read "Planet" CD/LP/Track Review Planet
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "Expanding Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Expanding Heart
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Voyage Home" CD/LP/Track Review Voyage Home
by Edward Blanco
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Tributango" CD/LP/Track Review Tributango
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 13, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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