[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(35:40; Bonobo's Ark Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Offering - RYB 4:24 2. The Revealed - The Hidden 4:57 3. Schema - Sukima 2:18 4. Appearance - Disappearance 4:36 5. The Plot - The Plan 3:29 6. Walk on the Middle of the Road (Sukima Version) 6:42 7. Latifundia (Sukima Version) 3:42 8. E=mc2 (Sukima Version) 5:32 LINEUP: Tim Hodgkinson - lap steel, clarinet Yumi Hara - percussion, sounds, keyboards, voice
Prolusion. UK based composer and musician Yumi HARA has been an active recording artist for the past decade or thereabouts, being a part of multiple bands and collaborations in addition to releasing solo material. She has been cooperating with members of highly regarded progressive rock band Henry Cow, first and foremost in the band The Artaud Beats, and in 2007 she expanded this to a collaborative effort with Tim HODGKINSON, a by know highly regarded composer and musician in his own right, that also has a past with this band. The result of this collaboration was released towards the end of 2017 as "Schema - Sukima" on Yumi Hara's own label Bonobo's Ark Records.
Analysis. While Yumi Hara has been active in quite a few bands and collaborations in the last decade, what all of them have in common is that they are challenging and demanding, usually with a distinct avant-garde touch to them, and rather frequently with quite a few experimental and expressive dimensions to them as well. Which is the case also for this production. I may presume that Hodgkinson have had some input in the direction of the material on this album, as the first half of it, roughly speaking, is music of the kind that I find more in line with what I read about the music he is most well known for. And not quite as much in line with the material I have heard Yumi Hara being a part of so far. The type of music in question probably resides somewhere within the context of minimalist music, contemporary classical music, experimental music and avant-garde. If I should coin a term, then I guess expressive avant-garde minimalism would do the trick quite nicely. Chaotic rhythm effects, odd sounds, eerie and expressive instrument details shifting, twisting and turning in a sparse arrangement with what sounds like a liberal amount of improvisation as a core foundation. Atonal rather than harmonic whenever a more defined tonal aspect can be noted. The second half of this album, or the final 16 minutes or so to be precise, is music of a slightly different character. Expressive vocals backed by expressive clarinet excursions is the order of the day here, music that in form has a rather closer relation to some variety of experimental jazz. Introspective, just like the first half of the album, and with the vocals given a lot of room to explore dramatic and creative manners in which to give life to the lyrics and emotions. My notion is that this material is more structured, but that the instrumental backing still maintains a fair degree of improvisation here. The total album experience is a challenging and demanding one, and one that for me comes across as a creation aimed towards a more finite and limited crowd. I get associations towards what is sometimes referred to as high art, and that the music was created in front of a specific art installation (RYB II by Kenneth Dingwall) kind of emphasize that impression. Not music to my personal taste, but the musicians involved are proven and it is not difficult to hear that this is the case.
Conclusion. "Schema - Sukima" is an album that most likely resides well outside of the progressive rock universe as such. Minimalist classical music and expressive minimalist jazz, both with liberal amounts of avant-garde elements, is how I would summarize the contents of this album. I suspect those that appreciate music of this kind will find this album to be quite the interesting experience, but I surmise that not too many others will hear the appeal of this music. Challenging, demanding, minimalist, avant-garde and expressive are noted key word associations, and those that find such a description alluring might want to take note of this album.
Progmessor: July 17th 2019
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]