Brett Larner Ikadamatsu: Improvised Duets 1994-2000

Larner plays two varieties of Japanese koto and a 21-stringed gu zheng in this series of duets recorded over six years. These instruments provide plenty of fresh ideas for improvisation as Larner employs the vocabulary, traditions and unique sonic properties of these instruments to create original statements. His own technique is spiky and sparse, often creating pointillist duets with those who play in a similar style, as with his duet with acoustic guitarist Taku Sugimoto. The best duets tend to occur when Larner's partner plays something more sustained or repetitive to give Larner his due as a melodicist. Superb duets occur when partnered with Loren Mazzancane Connors - this duet could have been an Ennio Morricone piece - and the electronic textures of Samm Bennett. The duet with Anthony Braxton doesn't totally come off, although both try hard. My favourite piece on Ikadamatsu is the otherworldly duet with G.E. Stinson, whose guitar-washes underpin some brilliant melodic playing by Larner. If you're vegetarian, you may want to remove the bloody graphics (and I do mean graphic) that grace this disc. (Spool)