Kazue Sawai, Michel Doneda, Kazuo Imai, Lê Quan Ninh, Tetsu Saitoh Une Chance Pour L'ombre

This disc, recorded at the 2003 Victoriaville festival, is a fine example of the kinds of transglobal mash-ups that are increasingly common on the contemporary free-improvisation scene: a meeting between three Japanese players — guitarist Kazuo Imai, koto-player Kazue Sawai, bassist Tetsu Saitoh — and two from France — soprano/sopranino saxophonist Michel Doneda and percussionist Lê Quan Ninh. The sheer richness of the soundworld is what first hits you in a heady mixture of the attractive — notably the koto’s harp-like chords and dangling-yoyo wows — and the abrasive: scrabbling strings, scrapes and clatters, plus Doneda’s kettle-whistle screams. The disc’s first half is a dizzying swirl of activity offering almost too much information to parse; in the second part the musicians work with larger musical units, developing extended episodes that are often slower and more meditative in texture. This is a complex and gripping performance, not least because of the vivid concert recording that plunges you into the thick of things. Recommended. (Victo)