Sunday, November 08, 2009

Review - Upstream

A West-East axis bold as love: the Canterbury vigor meets the Rising Sun delicacy.

Having played with Hugh Hopper in the HUMI project and ex-CRIMSO violin maestro David Cross, Yumi Hara isn't new to the specific English scene and now she teams up with Geoff Leigh who first came to prominence with HENRY COW and later was all over the Canterbury field. Together, the two find common ground in the meditative tones set by the opening title track where Leigh's flute navigates the electronically enhanced crystal-cold air between the mountainous walls from the left side of Hara's piano that sometimes echoes the barrelhouse and dwells there in the rolling avant-garde of "The Strait". More melodiously, "The Mountain Laughs" introduces Celtic folk motifs to the majestic Tibetan drone bordering on baroque fugue, and "Dolphin Chase" sees Yumi's ethereal voice and Geoff's saxes sending signals from underwater, while in "The Siren Returns" piano and flute rise Eastward-bound in a tired silky way. At the same time, "At The Temple Gate" repositions jazzy strain into the candescent cascades of Buddhist prayer, and "Stone Of The Beach" wraps up the vocals in a pulsating white noise glow. The result is strange but rapturously mesmerizing, and it's the music's deceptive simplicity that begs to try and sail upstream once and again.


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