July 5, 2009

Kawabata Makoto - Inui 3 (2005, VHF Records)

[I realize I haven't updated my blog since last week. I have started a new master's degree program which has been taking a lot of my focus, and also have found myself drawn increasingly to silence recently. While I am huge music fan, I am also a fan of meditation and deep listening, and often enjoy just sitting and focusing on the environmental sounds around me. It is similar to focusing the eyes on a candle flame for meditation, instead it is a focus of the ears. Anyway, I am still planning to work on this blog, so I will aim to keep updating at least weekly, and more often when possible!]

Kawabata Makoto is the guru-like mastermind of the Acid Mothers Temple collective from Japan, whom I profiled in a previous blog entry. I became a big fan of theirs during my time in Japan around '01, but didn't get to experience them live until around '05 in San Francisco. Kawabata is frequently touring around the world, recording many live CDs in collaboration with various non-idiomatic improvisors he meets, usually in tiny limited editions. Kawabata's aesthetic is long-form drone exploration, generated usually from his guitar and banks of pedals, although he is also adept at using many traditional asian stringed instruments and experimental electronics. I was particularly impressed by his "Inui" series, which featured Kawabata playing solo on a variety of exotic ethnic instruments, including bouzuki, sarangi, Chinese fiddle, and sitar. "Inui 2", released in '00, was one of the few AMT-related CD's available domestically in the US at the time, and I was intrigued by the gritty, somewhat-raw drone sounds and shimmering textures produced by these organic instruments. I recently read that a third "Inui" album had been released in '05, and was also happy to find that it is available both on CD and iTunes download. The tone of "Inui 3" is more gentle than the previous volume, with two long 12 and half minute pieces, and a third, 47 minute-long epic. Mellow layers of plucked strings and bowed tones drift around the listener, creating a sustained texture that develops subtly over the course of each piece. I was reminded of Windy & Carl's sound, but through a distinctly Asian, psychedelic lens. I prefer the less-noisy side of Kawabata and AMT's work, and "Inui 3" is now established as a favorite in my collection.