21 July 2011

Tara Jane O'Neil & Nikaido Kazumi - tara jane o'neil & nikaido kazumi (2011, Sweet Dream Press / K Records)

Tara Jane O'Neil toured Japan five times with Nikaido Kazumi, and in the process, they built mutual friendship and musical appreciation, so appeared the envy of a collaboration.

It is an album built in two phases: at first, four hours of improvisation recorded during one single day in 2008, basis for a reworking, turning elements into songs, in 2010. They use a very minimal setup, guitar, voices and various percussion instruments. Much more strange is the fact that this record has been realized without a common language, using alternative methods of communication most of the time, like drawings, pantomime, and clapping.

Then it's not a new album for Tara Jane O'Neil or Nikaido Kazumi, nor the result of a true collaboration like in a band, but instead a sort of improvised sidestep, a kind of meeting point between their two universes, a long (half broken) communication through music were the two of them meet and share music.

You can feel the communication process directly with the first track, a live improvisation of Nikaido Kazumi backed by the guitar of Tara Jane O'Neil, it's not a spectacular or great track but just an exchange of emotions, each of the two contributors getting slowly adjusted to each other and there is something moving when you feel the presence of these sparkles.

On the next track, "Bell and Pop", roles are exchanged, with Tara Jane O'Neil whispering over percussion instruments, but the connection between the two seems mechanic. This album is experimental because there is only a small window for listening to it, and sometimes it is not even opened and the result turns into trancelike music, something more primordial, childlike or "primitive", like on "Ruh Roh", "Thumb Drum", "Say yah", or "Nursery", or into something more cacophonic or repetitive, "Naturally", or "4 trains", where there is no realcommunication, just a conjunction of sounds.
Except the first track, something special happens too on "Riceball", and with the field recordings you can imagine the two preparing literally riceballs inside a kitchen, or on "Kaheeloud" which looks like a solo track by Tara Jane O'Neil emulating the very spontaneous form of expression used by Nikaido Kazumi, or with "Nikapella were instead Kazumi Nikaido sings almost like Tara Jane, or with "Melodica Hall" which out of a totally detuned beginning finally emerges a strange melancholic beauty, or with the last track which once again looks like a Tara Jane O'Neil track.

It is definitely an album to reserve to the real fans of these artists, because the improvisations even if reworked never totally reach the song level but instead at best float around and can be interpreted if you're fully attentive and in the right state of mind.


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