Ueno Takashi: Smoke Under the Water (Room40, 2017)

January 12, 2018 at 10:36 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ueno Takashi: Smoke Under the Water

On this solo instrumental album for Room40, Ueno Takashi (current member of Tenniscoats, once of Maher Shalal Hash Baz) plays guitar in such a manner that it’s hard to tell he’s even playing guitar. It’s hard to tell if Takashi is meticulously overdubbing and arranging guitar parts or if this is all done live with looping stations and other devices, but he constructs lush, flowing sound tapestries which can wash right over your ears if you’re not listening carefully, but are extremely intricate when you do pay attention. At times, it seems to resemble the cascading maxi-minimalism of pianist Lubomyr Melnyk. The pizzicato spirals of the second track are a bit closer to Dustin Wong, but not quite as buzzy, ecstatic, or high on life. Tracks 3 and 4 are a bit more eerie, and would make good soundtracks for haunted house levels in RPG games. 5 is like some sort of twisted, inverted carnival theme, while 6 seems to branch outward a bit more, and has some sort of demented rootsy bent to it, with a softly humming drone underneath. Each successive piece seems to hint further at different sorts of madness, but never pushing over the edge. It is exceedingly difficult to name any other guitarist who sounds like this, and it all sounds fascinating.

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