Boomkat Product Review:
PAN imparts its most ambitious and remarkable statement yet with this immersive 3-hour release of Kazuo Imai's avant-garde free improv collective Marginal Consort, recorded at Glasgow's Instal festival in 2008.
It's an impressive feat on so many levels, from the sheer volume of material, to the group's intuitive application of weighty rhetoric and philosophies - eloquently expounded in a 6-page feature in the current issue of The Wire. If we were to reduce it's appeal to any one factor, then its to the potential to collapse almost any listener's sense of time and space, depth and duration when given the attention it deserves.
It makes for a genuinely transcendent and transformative experience: over the course of three hours, divided in eight parts each between 21 - 25 minutes, the set explores forms of sound and ways of playing that never coalesce into 'traditional' music, instead creating a group dynamic of ebb and flow, of exploration and fluidity. Marginal Consort's members: Kazuo Imai (a student of Japanese Free Jazz linchpin Masayuki Takayanagi and also a member of both Taj Mahal Travellers and Takayanagi's New Direction Unit), Tomonao Koshikawa, Kei Shii, Yasushi Ozawa, Chie Mukai and sound-artist Masami Tada (also in GAP) adopt individual positions in the group that are hard to decipher, as opposed to so many other improv units whose preferred mode reflects a method of communication based on a mannered variant of of call-and-response.
Instead, Marginal Consort embrace an overlapping methodology, reflecting the chaos of life mutual to our shared experience, or as Imai himself puts it, "there always remain the fundamental premises that sounds are separately produced phenomena and that their accumulation forms the whole." It should be noted that this release was originally intended as one of PAN's earliest releases; to their huge credit it's taken the label years to put it together. In some respects, it seems right that now, with the benefit of hindsight five years down the line, it arrives to perfectly illustrate the label's broad, often daring parameters.