Boomkat Product Review:
Samurai stone drum & guitar jungle chops from 1998 by the don Jigen, an absolute must-check for fans of Christoph De Babalon, Derek Bailey’s recently resurfaced jungle improvisations, or even Photek & Source Direct.
After whipping imaginations into a brittle frenzy with the reissue of his ‘Stone Drum Avantgardism’ of the same year, the reticulated breaks and ghostly extended guitar tekkerz of Jigen’s ‘Blood’s Finality’ only deepen the mystery of this short-lived but deeply enchanting late ‘90s project from Japan. Filling a blindspot for lots of listeners, and living up to many stoned fantasies of jungle’s unfulfilled possibilities, Jigen’s work appeared at a point when the sound was on the cusp of calcifying into formulaic structures after an unprecedented run of innovations.
Geographically detached from the scene's epicentre, Jigen, like Christoph De Babalon in Germany, or - as we now know - Derek Bailey in South London, took license to head for the hills, splicing the style’s snaking drums with possessed guitar and wind expressions while it was shaping into nth degree darkside, jazzier or aggro forms back at the source. Nearly a quarter century later, its reemergence into a scene that has been thoroughly raked over and cyclically reappraised, is nothing short of thrilling for anyone who thought they’d heard it all.
Crashing in with a passage of avant bloody clatter, the set’s textures and flinty lick ’n spittle chops feel even more radical in 2022. The all-important restless funk is there, unpredictably moving in the shadows against backdrops of wind-played chimes and scraped strings on ‘対不破 (野弦太刀無銘)’ or rattling against hauntingly beautiful pipes in ‘空蝉半機’, with lingering lacunæ on ‘迎火狂雲’ really recalling the atmospheres of prime period Photek or his acolytes, whereas ‘万年番外地’ tilts into pure free jazz noise territory, and the final 11 minute beauty ‘無季’ perhaps most uncannily parallels Derek Bailey’s off-the-cuff riffs on pirate radio of that era.