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Tamio Shiraishi’s Sora is the fourth release in the Relative Pitch Solo Series, a collection featuring artists whose solo work deserves wider recognition. In the 1970s, Tamio Shiraishi was an integral member of Japanese avant-garde group Fushitsusha, which he founded alongside Keiji Haino. Since moving to New York, Shiraishi has honed his unique approach to the alto saxophone in the city’s cavernous subway stations; Sora sees his microtonal exploration of the altissimo range on full display. The recording opens and closes with Shiraishi exploring the rich reverb of Issue Project Room's Boerum Place location, filling another echoing chamber with an ossicle-rattling sound.
Sora is the most recent solo release from alto saxophonist and Fushitsusha co-founder Tamio Shiraishi. Shiraishi has worked out of Queens, NY since the early 1990’s and regularly plays solo sets in the NYC subway system which have accumulated a small but dedicated following. Much of Tamios’ solo aesthetic is built off of interactions with a physical space. This latest solo release was recorded in two locations, a cavernous performance space and a studio, and true to form they play as much a part in the recordings as Shiraish’s horn.
Sora (Sky) doesn't translate well into a blow-by-blow style of review. Shiraishi's minimalism is only such on a macro scale, like Richter's grey paintings rendered in altissimo, his playing forces you to listen more closely in terms of the qualities of the individual pieces and as they pertain to the collection as a whole. But unlike most music you hear the phrase "deep listening" tied to, Shiraishi doesn't make it easy. His voice on the alto is challenging and resides on the extreme high end, far beyond the instrument's general utility. This album is a raw masterclass in Shiraishi's personal language of microintervallic saxophone.
The set is bookended by a pair of tracks recorded in October 2019 at Issue Project Room's cavernous Boerum Place, where Shiraishi cuts sets of thin, piercing lines that echo and superimpose through the space. Tracks 2 & 6 were recorded at the Thousand Caves in Queens, NY in June 2019 and find Tamio utilizing complementary electronics that are rendered sparsely and in stark contrast to his saxophone playing. The 3 middle tracks (3-5) were also recorded at the Thousand Caves but during an earlier session in November 2018. These ‘center’ tracks are notably the most distilled examples of Tamio’s alto playing here, recorded simply in order to make all nuances plain. This is a terrific album. Nick Metzger
This is an unusual string quartet – with two cellists and two violinists. The lines of their instruments clash, overlap, build a quasi-resonant echo or sinusoidal forms, harmonize, but also verge upon Penderecki-style horror. Yet this is not a conceptual digression, but a complete composition that requires the listener’s attention throughout – and the result is perfect.
More: http://noweidzieodmorza.com/14428-the-best-of-astral-spirits/ Jakub Knera