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Album Review

Peter Kowald, Miya Masaoka & Gino Robair “Illuminations” [Rastascan]

Thurston Hunger   1/29/2005   CD, Format, Jazz

Liquid strings and bowed drums, these are the dreams
this trio spins. For me the album found its voice when
Kowald used his (Tuvan style on #5). After that point,
I was hooked…(well aside from grunting byproducts
on other tracks) The first two tracks have a muscular
maelstrom approach…if you want something with all
three off to the races. On the third Masaoka’s koto is
flinging shadows over Kowald careening between two
bowed notes. Track four has Robair’s drums upfront and
ominous and the koto keeping closer to its nature.
Then that vocal breather (Kowald has sung this way
before and worked with Sainkho Namchylat so he may
have picked up a tonsil trick or two.) After that it
was all gold to me, Masaoka sounding more harp-like
on #8 (like on her Monk tribute), Kowald slaps fat
rattling lines on #10, it’s hard to see but track 11
might be Robair bowing styrofoam, and track 12 maybe
he’s got the e-bow on the snare? He’s inventive so
it could be a brand new maneuver… This is also on
his label (glad to see its still going). Applaud the
discrete efforts, as much fevered inspiration as in
a 60 minute single session but with more scope and
better prospects to hop into a KFJC playlist.

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