– GUERRILLA WARFARE –
The Japanese/New Zealand composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Mark de Clive Lowe has been my highlight of 2019. Him. All of him. Not a track or an album. Just him.
First, he released both Heritage albums – his own explorations into his Japanese background (read my review of O-Edo Nihonbashi). Then, with his Japanese jazz/electronic supergroup Rōnin Arkestra, he released a well-received debut EP First Meeting – another personal highlight.
By the end of 2019 he might well have contributed four albums to my favourites of the year list with forthcoming RA full-length Sonkei and yet that would still be a remarkably small contribution to the prodigious producer’s 200+ album back-catalogue he’s been building since the late 90s.
Cosmic Collisions is the first track to be released from that record.
The band get their name from the Rōnin; a group of mercinary samurai from yesteryear. So the stories go, the master swordsmen roamed ancient Japan offering their skills wherever needed.
And so it is with the Arkestra – a collection of some of the biggest names in Japanese jazz and electronic music brought together for this one special mission. Members of Kyoto Jazz Sextet, WONK, Cro-Magnon, Root Soul, Sleepwalker, Sauce81 and Kyoto Jazz Massive are all involved and together they blast out some of the most inspired astrological electronic jazz you will hear.
Cosmic Collisions rotates around a piano ostinato while the drums cleverly change time underneath it and the reeds and keys do what they do best over the top. Of course, the secret sauce comes not so much from N’gaho Ta’quia but from de Clive Lowe, himself.
His signature audio manipulation can be heard throughout and it is he who is undoubtedly the band leader.
“The members of Rōnin Arkestra are some of my favourite musicians anywhere and the way we all come together in battle formation with so much heart and soul is making magic” he says. And who am I to argue?
Sonkei will be released on 27 September via Scrimshaw’s excellent label, Albert’s Favourites.
MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX
P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
– SV –