Reviews by Massimo Ricci

The A23H chronicle


ONJO - Live Vol.2 Parallel Circuit (doubtmusic)

The origins of ONJO - and of this pair of live albums - have been dealt with in my review of "Live Vol.1 Series Circuit" (same label), to which readers should refer for further information. This is the second 2-CD set derived from the same tour, offering additional merchandising baits for those who never have enough of powerful crosses of derringer jazz and - yes, let's use it - "punk" attitude alimented by scary musicianship. It only remains to analyze the contents so let's go to work, starting from the first disc. "Shichinin no Keiji" could very well be a Mediterranean song, opening with rather cantabile lines upon which the ensemble launches repeated calls to serenity, although of a slightly disturbed kind. The explosive surcharge characterizing Eric Dolphy's "Gazzelloni" - a fabulous version if there was ever one - incinerates any potential proposition of overindulgence with a mixture of ferocious drive and Zappa-esque irony, the whole making me want to dance like a drunken bear (I managed to contain myself, though). The final fusion of nuclear-powered sax squeals must be heard to understand. "Te recuerdo Amanda/Song for Che /Reducing agent" starts with choral lyricism that will cause the most nostalgic ones to reach for the handkerchief, then switches to a demonstration of brute force that makes the originals almost sound outmoded. Great drum solo by Yoshigaki Yasuhiro, by the way. "Super Jetter" begins mysteriously to become an entrancing disjointed lullaby made of bits and pieces, while "ANODEONJO" features an outraging fusillade that would bring existential doubts to Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music", a veritable attack on the listener's auricular membranes, saluted with the instrumental reproduction of a clash between a dozen trains. Disc two: "Lupin the third - Theme of Walther" will find many Italians happy, as this cartoon was (and still is) a sort of cult around these lands. Not for this writer, though - give me Gusztav and Professor Balthazar any moment. But this rendition is dazzling, energizing at the maximum level, swinging as hell - with a great guitar solo by the chief for good measure. "Double command O" lasts nearly half an hour, yet another specimen of Otomo's experiments with multiple orchestral intersections co-led by himself and, in this case, Itoken. Now, you already guessed that reticence is not one of the principal aspects of this orchestra. Well, the "double commands" can be used as a kind of introduction to ONJO's overall artistic conception, presenting continuous successions of interactive playing and genre-abolishing freedom which I won't even try to describe; suffice to say that this is significant music played by artists whose virtuosity is genuine, not iron-pumping for their egos. Anyway, it must be told that the reed/string cooperation in this track is next to radio-therapeutic treatment, delivering us from any residual cell of Mozart baloney and Vivaldi saccharine. Two classics end the adventure: Dolphy's "Something sweet, something tender", a black-mood interpretation of this piece that the band executes with increasing heartbeat speed in emotional suspension, and Jim O'Rourke's "Eureka" - first whispered by Kahimi Karie, then the conclusive liberation, a hymn to sing until becoming hoarse, deaf, and definitively delighted. One can see Alfred Harth's lenses getting damp while blasting out in this extraordinary finale. And, since seeing is believing, why not taking advantage of Guillaume Dero's movie about Otomo, recently published by La Huit in France? Those who are interested can find it here. Irresistible marketing strategies, especially when the products are this desirable.

In Touching Extremes