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(38 min, Poseidon)
TRACK LIST: 1. Get My Goat 2:10 2. Elephant Walk 1:45 3. First Off 1:50 4. Beautiful Drowned Manle 1:14 5. Ocean & Strains II 1:59 6. Asymptomatic 0:39 7. Crayfish 1:15 8. 1 cm per 1 Day 1:04 9. Rat With A Black Head 1:28 10. Don't Mix 4:39 11. Ocean & Strains III 2:58 12. Not To Be Taken Internally 2:17 13. Dacoit 0:55 14. Hoppy 2:07 15. No Talking 1:49 16. Doodadt 0:49 17. Star Shape Crystal 0:42 18. Round Off 1:45 19. Right Foot 2:16 20. Jugular 1:27 21. Tepidarium 3:19 LINEUP: Kasai - Chapman Stick Rumi - keyboards Kumihiro Ando - contrabass
Prolusion. "Triangulate" is the second release of Japan's FOX HOLE COMMUNE (FHC hereinafter, which was originally a quartet), following "One Locus Consisting of Three Fragments" from 2003 and showing that 3 is the group's favorite number. The personnel have undergone quite significant changes. Gone are drummer Ichi and violinist Aco. The only newcomer Kumihiro Ando is a contrabassist. A trio (another sign?) of two bassists and keyboardist is an unusual lineup configuration, to say the least. How did this strange crew venture to start on this voyage, plus without a steersman, i.e. drummer? Let's see.
Analysis. Well, it's a kind of yachting in coastal waters, figuratively speaking. As is already typical of FHC, the album is quite short in duration while featuring a really enormous number of tracks, all being instrumental pieces of course. Unlike those on the group's first outing however, no one will find these to be parts of one cohesive mosaic (above all because they are separated from each other with pauses), although all of them are entities of a unified compositionally stylistic concept, at least overall. It's much easier to perceive them as the fragments of a broken mirror. All twenty-one of the pieces without exception have been composed, throughout. So they are fully intelligible, and yet all appear to be underdeveloped. Sensible sketches, in other words. I wouldn't say that the music is immediately accessible, but nonetheless don't expect any particular complexity from this stuff. Intensity rarely visits it either, and not only due to the absence of a drummer. There are literally just a couple of tracks on which the trio plays fast and energetically. This time around Kasai avoids using the wide possibilities of his Chapman Stick, so the instrument sounds almost exclusively like a bass guitar (the only exception being Tepidarium, finding Kasai eliciting electric guitar-like sounds). Rumi's keyboard collection isn't over-rich either and includes some unusual sort of a traditional organ (maybe the archaic Vermona, not sure), which he plays on most tracks, and a toy organ. To complement the picture, I have to note that the album doesn't feature overdubs and that contrabassist Kumihiro Ando joins his partners not as often as I would like him to. Many pieces begin with three unison / in fourth / in fifth solos, one of which remains unchangeable throughout, serving as an axis for the further variations of the other two. In other words, it's nothing else but Minimalist music which forms much of the basis of this creation. But while most of the shorter pieces reveal the best qualities typical of this direction, the longest one, Don't Mix, is just monotonous. Elephant Walk should probably be regarded as a rendering of King Crimson's Elephant Talk, especially since some of its parts just repeat the original. It needs to be said Kasai turns to Robert Fripp's technique more than once on the recording, though mostly in latent form.
Conclusion. Judging by their first recording, as well as their general performance capabilities, FHC is a group of genuinely competent musicians. So I am certain it was easily within their grasp to elaborate and complete all these sketches, then build the logical bridges between them and, in that way, to make a fully-fledged album-suite. In its current appearance "Triangulate" reminds me most of all of a good (perhaps even excellent) library album, but such works aren't destined for a wide audience.
VM: April 2, 2006
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