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RYOKO ONO & ROGIER SMAL / JOXFIELD PROJEX & RYOKO ONO

«Wood Moon»
JVTLANDT
«Red to Red»
BAMBALAM

Japanese, Nagoya-based sax player Ryoko Ono is a highly versatile musician who refuses to subscribe to any genre or style. She enjoys exploring free improvisation formats, as in her meeting with Amsterdam-based drummer Rogier Smal, prog-rock settings, as in her duo SaxRuins with drummer Tatsuya Yoshida or meetings with French guitarist Richard Pinhas, experimenting with fusion-electronics soundscapes with the Swedish duo Joxfield ProjeX, or with psychedelic-noise master Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple, or leading her prog-jazz group Ryorchestra.

«Wood Moon» was recorded after a chance meeting between Ono and Smal in Japan led to a decision to perform again in Europe. Smal recorded before with American guitarist Eugene Chadbourne, danish sax player Johannes Lund and trombonist Maria Bertel. This album offers nine short and unnamed free improvisations that stress the duo immediate rapport and urgent flow of ideas. The duo complementary dynamics rely on Smal muscular, fast-shifting polyrhythmic basis that keeps pushing Ono alto sax wails to wilder and more intense stratospheric terrains. But these fiery improvisations can suddenly, and often briefly, lock on a melodic theme as on the sixth one, or explore the resonating sonic spectrum of a series of fast multiphonics as on the ninth one. The fourth improvisation is the only exception. It features Ono reciting a stream-of-thoughts spoken words mixed with an inventive gibberish in a manner that brings to mind the hilarious speeches of fellow Japanese sax hero, Akira Sakata. This duo is just beginning to explore its great potential.

The vinyl-only «Red to Red» matches Ryoko Ono with the irrational-psychedelic-avant-whatever Swedish duo Joxfield ProjeX of guitarist Stefan Ek and keyboards player Janne Yan Andersson, working now for ten years together. The first, self-titled side offers a dense and often distorted-sounding soundscape that is based on techno-tinged hypnotic heavy beats. Ono sax soars high above this swampy soundscape, but briefly interferes with its steady, mechanic pulse. The second side, «Unexplored Territories», is an abstract-psychedelic and meditative piece. Here Ono distant and spares duck wails, breathes and inventive multiphonics blend impressively with this floating-atmospheric walls of sounds.

Eyal Hareuveni

Ryoko Ono (as, v), Rogier Smal (dr, perc), Stefan Oax Ek (g, ebow bowed g, elec, effects); Janne Yan Andersson (keys, synth, b, prog.perc, elec. eff.)