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TRACK LIST: 1. Time Flies Like an Arrow 4:34 2. Assassin in Sin 5:09 3. Pliable Clockwork 8:41 4. To India 13:35 LINE-UP: Masaharu Nakakita - bass Shinji Kitamura - saxophone Dai Akahani - trumpet Akihiro Enomoto - drums
Prolusion. "14 Faces, Vol. 1" is the second outing by DJAMRA and is their first in a series of live albums, the total number of which, to all appearances, should be fourteen. The review of the band's debut studio album can be read by clicking >here.
Synopsis. Djamra is in fine form working through this live set featuring four compositions from their first album, all of which sound rather different from the originals. To be more precise, the latter remark is more applicable with regard to the first two tracks: Time Flies Like an Arrow and Assassin in Sin. Whereas To India (4), and especially Pliable Clockwork, which, being four times lengthier than its studio version, is indeed a very pliable thing:-), can be easily perceived as new compositions or, at least, as free variations on the set themes. In my view, these had to be titled as Pliable Clockwork-2 and To India-2, so let me please name them below exactly so. Generally, each of the tracks here has a jazzier, more improvisational feel to it than any from the band's studio outing, which is probably due to the specifics of live performances as such. Nevertheless, all of them, save Pliable Clockwork-2, remain within the framework of original stylistics, which is definitely RIO or, in this very case, a blend of classic and jazzy manifestations of RIO. One of the positive things about the last track is that it is noticeably heavier than its first ancestor with some bass solos sounding not unlike guitar riffs, but then it is almost free of flavors of the oriental music. There is only one and rather short episode on To India-2 where the sound of bass resembles that of an Indian sitar. As to Pliable Clockwork-2, this piece is for the most part woven of pure improvisations and, unlike all the other compositions and self-renderings that Djamra has at the moment, is about a classic Jazz with elements of RIO, and not vice versa.
Conclusion. Well, it's clear that while playing live the band is dedicated to developing their music through improvisation, at least partly. So I believe their materials will evolve with time, keeping the future performances fresh and significant. One will probably want to check out only the studio release, but in a live setting Djamra is a force to be reckoned with, and this effort shows no signs to the contrary. Although the sound quality is far from excellent, the first live document from one of Japan's most important contemporary RIO-related bands is noteworthy enough to be recommended.
VM: May 6, 2004
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