Opposites Do Attract (Slight Return)

I love music – don’t hate it. I love it in all its genuine forms. Check these two exquisite CDs, which your early-morning snitch listened back-to-back and is now proceeding to relate about.

HAMAYÔKO – Retronica

Yôko Higashi is a quite unique spirit, and listening to her halfway-through-rags-and-riches acousmatic hotchpotches is becoming a gratifying rendezvous on a regular basis. In Retronica, we find ourselves surrounded by the well-dressed multidirectional anarchy that this girl has grown us used to, full of malformed speeches and uttered grunts, pitch-transposed atonal chanting, warped-to-death samples, spiteful distortions and paroxysmal rhythms. But what’s instantly noticeable by now is the enrichment of the compositional traits of the music from a record to another, always granting additional points in my scorecard: the nine tracks, despite the myriads of apparently extraneous sounds (even slightly distressing sometimes, gunshots and agonizing vocal emissions belonging to the recipe), demonstrate a preparative work that probably took a long time before the definitive permission to publish them. Or maybe this was all done in a couple of afternoons, who knows. In 33 minutes of harmonic bedlam I couldn’t hit upon a weak point, a brilliantly organized mess that ultimately privileges positivity to annihilation. Aurally stimulating, cleverly efficient, theatrical in the right moments, this is possibly hamaYôko’s finest outing to date. (Entr’acte)

RONNIE BOYKINS – The Will Come, Is Now

Ronald Boykins was the regular bassist for Sun Ra from 1958 to 1966, and – more sporadically – to 1974. One year later he finally responded positively to ESP’s Bernard Stollman’s request, 11 years prior (!), of recording a solo album. Here we have the reissue of that effort, which will remain his lone trace as a leader until an early demise in 1980 following a heart attack. Despite the attendance of three saxophonists (Monty Waters, Joe Ferguson and James Vass – the latter two also doubling on flute) and a trombonist (Daoud Haroom), the record’s temperament is initially delineated by the foreground presence of percussionists Art Lewis and George Avaloz, who characterize and highlight Boykins’ nearly obsessive vamping quite heavily in the lengthy title track. The principal’s work with arco is especially poignant in “Starlight At The Wonder Inn”, while the reeds get their deserved spots in the light during the splendidly chaotic, yet perfectly comprehensible arrangement of the brisk “Demon’s Dance” and in the mysteriously oblique slow walk that typifies the intro to “Dawn Is Evening, Afternoon” before the band starts swinging for the fences. “Tipping On Heels” make me feel like listening to a childhood scented radio program, moving rapidly without uncertainties, sounding wonderfully dusty. The conclusive extended improvisation – “The Third I”, another seriously percussive episode – might have aged a little worse, but this does not detract from the utter fascination that this music causes. Pure pleasure for wistful ears like mine. (ESP)

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