Boomkat Product Review:
Empty Editions follow up Eli Keszler’s dynamic inauguration, 'Last Signs of Speed ', with a spellbinding mesh of energies generated by Jean-Luc Guionnet’s extended alto sax tekkers and the wailing feedback systems of Daichi Yoshikawa.
Under the title Intervivos - Latin for “between the living” - they vividly and obscurely speak to the listener in a spectralist, non-verbal language, recorded during a week long residency at Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery. If you’re familiar with AMM, David Tudor, Rashad Becker or Iancu Dumitrescu, you may be able to understand what Guionnet and Yoshikawa are saying, but even if not, this side is a strong example of modern, boundary-pushing improv that should pique the interests of casual and hardcore listeners alike.
“Although Guionnet and Yoshikawa both come from prolific backgrounds in free jazz and electroacoustic improvisation -- Guionnet plays in The Ames Room with Will Guthrie and Clayton Thomas and Yoshikawa studied with AMM’s Eddie Prevost -- Intervivos sees them developing an approach to improvising which seeks to escape the increasingly narrow stylistic confines of these musical provinces. The album is characterized by a brutal foregrounding of process and material lacking from the experimental music of so many of their contemporaries. Rather than seeking refinement or resolution through existing structures, Guionnet and Yoshikawa prioritize a sort of collaborative musical searching in which the aural entanglement, layering and folding of their scorched intonations creates an emergent musical form -- a non-linear music which sounds both ancient and futuristic.
Corruscating alto saxophone riffs appear suddenly, before disintegrating amidst slabs of feedback and flurries of metallic percussion. Other times, Yoshikawa and Guionnet conjure shifting clouds of sustained tones from the timbral meshing of their instruments - yielding a sound somewhere between the dense textures of Iancu Dumitrescu and the floating harmonics of Gagaku. Far from improvisation as we know it, this album instead gestures towards a speculative “electronic” music created through the ritualistic misuse of acoustic instruments. Intervivos is a fierce, undecorated triumph in the ruinous expression of instruments -- exalted in both its turbulence, and in its extreme testing of improvisational reality. Put summarily by Seymour Wright in the album’s liner notes: “You don’t need me to tell you how it sounds, or how to listen [...] this record begins when you play it.””